There is a new page in the Record Use Policy area on the OCLC website with an invitation from Jennifer Younger, chair of the Review Board, inviting members of the community to send e-mail to email@example.com or to post public comments on the Review Board Online Feedback Forum. In reaction, I want to commend OCLC for trying to provide mechanisms for community feedback to the Review Board. I know that the messages to firstname.lastname@example.org are being read — within a minute of sending my comment late on a Saturday night I got back an automated out-of-the-office message from the account of one of the board members. Within 24 hours I got a reply from Ms. Younger. And adding comments to a single-post blog is one way to provide a public space for feedback to the Review Board.
I do have to scratch my head, though, at the mechanism chosen by OCLC and/or the Review Board as the public comment space. A linear list of moderated comments on a single-post blog is not really what I had in mind when I called for a space for “dialog among those interested in the guidelines and policies surrounding member-contributed creation and enhancements to WorldCat records.” This mechanism lacks the ability to focus comments on particular topics, to follow a thread of discussion as issues are debated, or even to view comments from the perspective of all-from-one-author or only-comments-on-selected-topic. An open mailing list with a public archive would be better than this. Surely members of the review board have used more interactive, engaging forms of online dialog than this. I’m left to wonder why this mechanism was chosen. I had also hoped that the source research from which the review board is drawing information (other than the public mailing list and blog commentary) would also be made public so there could be a shared understanding in the community of the topic leading up to the review board’s recommendations. (Documents such as those used by the OCLC staff study group leading up to the creation of the initial policy.) Perhaps these documents will be coming in another forum. Are my expectations out of line?
Still, if it is the only mechanism offered, I hope people will take advantage of it. If you do use other mechanisms to post your thoughts to others, I hope you will also update the OCLC Policy Change page on the Code4Lib Wiki as a finding aid for others.
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.(This post was updated on 28-Jan-2011.)