December 2011 Archives

The National Library of Sweden and WorldCat

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OCLC is in discussions with the National Library of Sweden about the Library's recent post to its website. We believe that the National Library and the Libris union catalog it supports can be made visible in WorldCat in a way that meets the library's expectations and is consistent with the norms of the OCLC cooperative. We were disappointed that they chose to end the talks.

While we look for other ways to work with Swedish libraries in the future, it's important to correct the Library's characterization of OCLC's position regarding data contribution to the Europeana project. When we were asked by the National Library of Sweden about their participation in Europeana, we conveyed our interpretation of the WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities (WCRR) guidelines that the 'public domain dedication license' required by all participants of Europeana would be inconsistent with the community norms identified in the guidelines.

We explained our reasons for this interpretation in an earlier post to the Open Knowledge Foundation blog. In our discussions with the National Library and Europeana we characterized these guidelines, which were written and ratified by the members of the OCLC cooperative, as a code of good practices. It is a discretionary guideline and ultimately the library's decision to release WorldCat derived records to another institution. In that same blog post we suggest a licensing approach that would be consistent with the WCRR. This approach was discussed with both Europeana and the National Library of Sweden as the basis for moving forward. OCLC has since used this licensing approach in our releases of data (FAST, OhioLINK). We are working to make this a standard recommendation to OCLC members in managing their own catalog data.

Jim Michalko
Vice President, OCLC Research Library Partnership

Libraries at Webscale

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Last month, Fast Company ran an article, "The Great Tech War of 2012." It's a great piece and goes into some really good details about how the "Fab Four" Internet biggies (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google) are poised to compete with each other on a variety of fronts, both technological, cultural, economic and marketing-wise. Here's a quote that sums it up:

The four American companies that have come to define 21st-century information technology and entertainment are on the verge of war. Over the next two years, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will increasingly collide in the markets for mobile phones and tablets, mobile apps, social networking, and more. This competition will be intense. Each of the four has shown competitive excellence, strategic genius, and superb execution that have left the rest of the world in the dust.

We've seen this happening for awhile, of course, already. The players change from year to year... although these four seem to have a bit more staying power.

What can any library offer that these four giants can't provide? During a discussion of OCLC strategy at the Global Council meeting this last November, Bill Maes (University Librarian from the Dalhousie University, Killam Memorial Library in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada) summed it up in one word: VALUES.

At that meeting, Global Council delegates discussed what they believed to be the greatest challenges and opportunities facing their libraries, institutions, communities and users. While many topics were discussed, one surprising finding was that, regardless of library type, size or location, a few major issues that dominated members' thinking. As you might guess, economic issues (i.e., funding) was near the top of the list, as was the changing nature of and increased competition in education. But what resonated the most during these discussions was a need to maintain, promote and grow the role of library values in the information services environment. While no one argued that libraries are, in many ways, competing (and cooperating) with for-profit services, what was brought forward was a need to make sure that the beliefs and goals of librarians are what we place at the center of our activities as we plan for the future in an increasingly crowded and complex information ecosystem. The delegates also got a sneak preview of the new cooperative service OCLC WorldShare, which OCLC announced officially on December 5.

You can read more about the Global Council's thoughts in the discussion document, Libraries at Webscale. This report brings together the ideas of hundreds of librarians, industry experts and thought leaders to examine the question: what does successful library cooperation look like in a Webscale world?

As we sifted through dozens of interviews, books and essays and hundreds of quotes from librarians, it became clear that there are two major areas in which the core library value of sharing can be leveraged to help better represent libraries online:

  • Shared data - which leads to shared intelligence and better discovery/delivery of resources
  • Shared infrastructure - which provides a space for shared innovation and promotes efficiency
Many thanks to our Global Council delegates, and to the many librarians, staff, writers, industry experts and thought-leaders whose ideas shaped this report. Our thanks, also, to the OCLC Webscale Management Services (WMS) early adopter libraries whose hard work, cooperative attitude, and honest feedback has been so important to the success of that project.

We all know how rapidly this Webscale environment is shifting, changing, growing and evolving. It's exciting, of course... and a little scary. Working together, though, I believe that libraries can promote their collections, services, resources - and values - in ways that surprise and delight the students, scholars, citizens and communities we serve.

I look forward to your thoughts, and to all the great things we'll be doing together.

George Needham

Today, collectively, on behalf of OCLC members, I'm pleased to announce that we are moving the cooperative's ongoing strategy to help libraries operate and innovate at Webscale to a broader level with the introduction of OCLC WorldShare, a new platform and a new brand that signals OCLC's commitment to greater collaboration.

The new OCLC WorldShare Platform will enable library developers, partners and other organizations to create, configure and share a wide range of applications that deliver new functionality and value for libraries and their users. OCLC will also deploy data centers around the world in support of OCLC WorldShare and other services. The first data center outside the United States will be implemented this week in the United Kingdom. Additional data centers will be deployed in continental Europe, Australia and Canada in the coming year.

OCLC's mission and public purpose are clearly aligned with the concept of Webscale. We have been providing infrastructure and services that have enabled members to build efficiencies in the management of libraries, and to increase the visibility and impact of their collections in compelling user environments on the Web. To date, this work has been significant. Now we see a need to provide more of those connective elements, the services and systems that will allow libraries to leverage even more of their activities and data together, at Webscale.

In the coming weeks, participants from platform pilot libraries will work with members of the OCLC Developer Network to help create and build new applications to populate the OCLC WorldShare App Gallery, where users can see available apps and install them into current work environments. Developers can showcase their creativity, partners can create add-on functionality and library staff can find practical, everyday solutions to streamline and enhance their workflows.

The first services built on this new infrastructure are OCLC WorldShare Management Services (formerly Webscale Management Services), including circulation, acquisitions and license management applications. Today, more than 30 libraries are already using OCLC WorldShare Management Services, and more than 150 libraries worldwide have committed to the new service since September 2010. Over time, OCLC will bring additional library management services and applications under the OCLC WorldShare name, including resource sharing, consortial borrowing and metadata management. OCLC WorldCat will continue to be the hub for the cooperative's shared data, including registry and knowledge base information as well as discovery services such as WorldCat.org and WorldCat Local.

To read more about OCLC's vision for library cooperation, I invite you to read, Libraries at Webscale.


Jay Jordan

President and Chief Executive Officer