Introducing Geographic Scope to Physical Collections

So I don’t know how this one slipped past me: you can link directly into Open WorldCat via an ISBN/ISSN REST-based URL.

Now any Web site can create “Find in a Library” links for specific titles. The syntax for link URLs is straightforward and keyed on common numeric identifiers.

http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/open/isbnissnlinking/default.htm

For instance, a URL that gets directly to the ARL SPEC Kit on Patron Privacy that I wrote a number of years ago is:

http://worldcatlibraries.org/wcpa/isbn/1594076103

Folks, it doesn’t get much easier than that. Compared to junk our OPACs are creating, that URL is absolutely gorgeous. (And it is a real URL — it doesn’t pretend to be a real URL by redirecting you to some other, perhaps messier, place. Nice work, OCLC!)

Update 22-Jan-2006: Lorcan Dempsey describes a new “bookmark me” feature on each OpenWorldCat page.

With this API you can not only find the holdings of your library (assuming you contribute holdings to OCLC) but also that of your neighbors. Here in Ohio we have a rich tradition of union catalogs (anyone remember what the “O” in OCLC used to stand for?), but even with the OhioLINK Central Catalog you only have a limited perspective (academic libraries, in our case) of what is available.

So it begs the question — exactly what are our local OPACs? There are some deficiences — for now — to the Open WorldCat-as-OPAC concept:

  • Holdings may be incomplete (what percentage of your holdings are in OCLC WorldCat?)
  • No local status (could be addressed with NCIP?)
  • Messy, messy linking problems to subscription services

But there are some great benefits:

  • Easily see what your neighbors have
  • The power of FRBR that only OCLC (and, to a certain extent, RLG) can provide
  • A nice “Web 2.0″ (whatever that means to you) interface
  • And, you guessed it, a huge economy of scale in the saving resources that each of us would spend doing it independently

So what is our OPAC? Perhaps in a post for another day…

(This post was updated on 22-Jan-2006.)