OCLC Record Use Policy Issue Coming to a Head

In roughly a week, the OCLC membership through the Members Council will hear of the preliminary findings from the Review Board of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship. The Review Board was tasked with formulating recommendations in response to the community’s objections to the proposed Record Use policy. The charter for the Review Board says that “delegates will discuss the report at the May Members Council meeting….” In anticipation of this event, I posed this question to reviewboard@oclc.org: is the review board planning on publicly posting a draft report prior to the meeting so the Members Council delegates can bring community feedback to the meeting?

Dr. Jennifer Younger, director of libraries at the University of Notre Dame and chair of the of the review board, replied and gave permission to post her response widely:

I will be reporting out to the MC next week as you state. I will not have a written draft of the Review Board report although I will have copies of my presentation on Monday for the delegates. I think there will be a period of about two weeks, give or take, when MC delegates could solicit input from their respective communities.

At the MC meeting, I will speak about the input we are getting, from whom, the nature of the comments and highlight some of the survey findings, and note that Review Board members themselves bring a wide range of expertise to the job at hand, from a variety of kinds of institutions and backgrounds as well, adding to the diversity of input.

I will identify the issues we see to date, the areas to be addressed in our recommendations and the directions in which we are going, listing these in some useful order. I will ask for input from MC on the issues, areas to be addressed in the recommendations and the directions in which we are going. I will speak to the timetable and steps between the MC meeting and delivery of the final report to Chair, BOT, President, MC and CEO, OCLC.

I followed up by noting that it seemed like a good deal of the information about the activities and directions of the Review Board are going to be transmitted orally to Members Council. As important as this issue is to the core of OCLC, I am concerned that the discussion within the community after Dr. Younger’s presentation on Monday could be derailed by inadvertent misunderstandings or errant quoting of the presentation content.

I asked: can you post a copy of your presentation slides, if any, and/or the text of your prepared remarks to the online feedback forum shortly after the Members Council meeting? I would offer that doing so would improve the quality of feedback received by the Review Board through Members Council delegates by eliminating potential sources of misunderstanding. Dr. Younger replied:

We will be posting a video of the presentation to MC after the meeting takes place, so yes, the presentation will be available beyond the MC.

Presentation recordings and materials from Members Council meetings are posted on the OCLC website. Given the quick turn-around time for comments, measured in weeks according to Dr. Younger, I hope OCLC will rush the recording to their website to enable a full dialog among the membership and community.

ICOLC Posts Objections to Proposed Record Use Policy


In other related news, the International Coalition of Library Consortia posted a Statement on the Proposed OCLC Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records. A number of U.S. and Canadian consortia have signed the statement so far, but there are only two signatories from outside North America. The statement was just announced today, so perhaps there will be additional endorsements by other consortia around the world as the workday marches forward.

The ICOLC statement concurs with and supports the extensive document published by an ad hoc ARL task force in January, and calls out three issues in particular:

  1. The proposed policy appears to freeze OCLC’s role in the library community based on historical and current relationships.
  2. The scope of the proposed policy goes well beyond any concerns about inappropriate commercial exploitation of WorldCat records.
  3. The proposed policy is legally murky. There is no mechanism for negotiation of terms and conditions nor is it clear what constitutes acceptance by member libraries. A new policy must address these problems.

The text was modified to update a link from http://www.oclc.org/us/en/worldcat/catalog/policy/board/default.htm to http://replay.waybackmachine.org/20090318034041/http://www.oclc.org/us/en/worldcat/catalog/policy/board/default.htm on January 28th, 2011.

The text was modified to update a link from http://www.library.yale.edu/consortia/statement-oclcrecorduse.htm to http://icolc.net/statement/statement-proposed-oclc-policy-use-and-transfer-worldcat-records on November 13th, 2012.

(This post was updated on 13-Nov-2012.)