At the Intersection of the OCLC Records Use Policy and the WorldCat Local Cloud-based Library Management Service

Last Friday, Andrew Pace (Executive Director of Networked Library Services for OCLC) was interviewed by Richard Wallis of Talis on OCLC’s recent announcement of a cloud-based library management service. As part of that conversation, Richard and Andrew touched on the ongoing debate on the OCLC record use policy. Below is a transcript from that part of the interview (with time markers from the start of the interview).

Richard Wallis (27:00)
What about [libraries’] local data? By providing data up onto the OCLC platform, will that data be restricted in its use — how they can use it — or will it be totally open for them to use it in any way that they want to?
Andrew Pace (27:17)
That data is the library’s data.
Richard Wallis (27:21)
One of the reasons I ask that question is obviously we’re aware of the issues about bibliographic record reuse licensing that is going on at the moment. Do you see that conversation having any impact on the back-end data or the usage statistics data or anything like that?
Andrew Pace (27:41)
I imagine there will be service-level agreements we’ll build for the data that are going into library management services, but I am reluctant to combine what is going there with the record use policy discussions. I think as the record use policies are under revision — they are under discussion right now — I think libraries are cognizant of all of the data issues, but I am reluctant to tie the two together completely.
Richard Wallis (28:11)
So you probably see the bibliographic conversation separate from the raw data type conversation.
Andrew Pace (28:20)
Yeah, I think they are related to each other but I think they are separate conversations.

I think this is absolutely the right answer, and I’m glad to see the distinction between the shared bibliographic data and the holdings/circulation-transaction data so cleanly separated. They are related, but in the case of the former it is truly the library’s data. Earlier on in the interview, Andrew addressed the issue of how OCLC would respond to disclosure requests from law enforcement agencies.

Richard Wallis (21:35)
How would OCLC handle an inquiry under the [USA] Patriot Act or something like that?
Andrew Pace (21:42)
I might beg off on that as being a legal question, but it is one that we have asked about what it means for that data. I’m not sure it is going to be entirely different than how libraries would have to deal with it on a local system.
Richard Wallis (22:02)
I suppose the only concern is if you have the records for transactions in a signifcant number of libraries, it may actually be somewhere that government star people might want to wander and ask questions. I suppose that is where it is different in this environment.
Andrew Pace (22:20)
Yeah, and what I’m arguing is that it would be similar situation to software as a service or other hosted applications as well. But I’m not going to attempt any kind of legal answer since I’m not a lawyer.
Richard Wallis (22:37)
Ah, that’s disappointing. I could have quoted you back to yourself in a year’s time, but never mind, I understand why you ducked that question. I would have done so as well.

For me, this is further evidence that OCLC would consider the transaction data to be owned by the library. I’m not a lawyer either, but this would seem to push the responsibility for responding to a law enforcement agent request to the member library. Hopefully, there is legal precedent to make that stick.

Overall, it is a good interview that really puts some added definition to the plans for WorldCat Local Library Management Services.

The text was modified to update a link from http://blogs.talis.com/panlibus/archives/2009/05/oclcs-andrew-pace-talks-with-talis-about-web-scale-ils.php to http://blogs.capita-libraries.co.uk/panlibus/2009/05/08/oclcs-andrew-pace-talks-with-talis-about-web-scale-ils/ on August 27th, 2012.

(This post was updated on 27-Aug-2012.)