Within the span of a recent week we’ve had two views of the OCLC cooperative. In one we have a proposition that OCLC has gone astray from its core roots and in the other a celebration of what OCLC can do. One proposes a new mode of cooperation while the other extols the virtues of the existing cooperative. Both writers claim — independently — to “talk to librarians” and represent the prevailing mood of the profession. Can these two viewpoints be reconciled?
I’ve run across a striking similarity between the bibliographic utility business and the newswire business, particularly in the area of cooperatives. Two cooperatives — OCLC on the bibliographic utility side and the Associated Press on the newswire side — have the same pattern of activity:
- both are membership organizations,
- both seek to amplify the efforts of members (bibliographic records in one case, news stories and photographs in the other),
- both are reacting to threats to content under its purview, and
- both have prominent members experimenting with new forms of content delivery and use.
I’ll admit that this comparison between OCLC and the AP is not fully formed, but it has been running around in my mind long enough that it seemed appropriate to put it here. Feel free to run with this further if you think it has merit, or tell me that I’m nuts.