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?
On September 9th, OCLC filed its first substantial response with the court to the antitrust lawsuit file by SkyRiver and Innovative Interfaces. And in a motion where OCLC requests a change of venue from the Northern District of California to the Southern District of Ohio — something seemingly mundane — they certainly pulled no punches:
This year the ALCTS Forum at ALA Midwinter brought together three perspectives on massaging bibliographic data of various sorts in ways that use MARC, but where MARC is not the end goal. What do you get when you swirl MARC, ONIX, and various other formats of metadata in a big pot? Three projects: ONIX Enrichment at OCLC, the Open Library Project, and Google Book Search metadata.
Jay Jordan’s remarks during the OCLC Update Breakfast and the discussion at the Developers Network table at that breakfast generated further fuel for my previous philosophical thoughts on “Who is a member of the OCLC Cooperative?” In the context of things like Developer Network API keys1 this question of who is a member of OCLC the cooperative and who is not meets the on-or-off, ones-and-zeros nature of computers. One can’t “kinda” have an API Key unless that capability is programmed into the software (or a human chooses to override the established rules for who has a key).
I think it is a statistical anomaly that many of the meetings I attended during ALA Midwinter were somehow related to OCLC. That statistical anomaly has certainly played out in postings here on DLTJ of my impressions of Midwinter meetings. Continuing with this thread of OCLC events, I attended the OCLC Update Breakfast Sunday morning for a membership-dues-paid croissant and orange juice, and to listen to Jay Jordon’s biannual update on the past, present and future of OCLC. What follows are highlights that I found interesting in the course of his remarks, but certainly not a comprehensive report of what was said. Video of Jay’s remarks where recorded and are to be posted at some point on the OCLC website (roughly six to eight weeks from now, if my memory of past events can be any guide).
On Saturday morning of ALA Midwinter 2010, Dr. Jennifer Younger moderated a session on the progress of the OCLC Record Use Policy Council. The meeting started with an introduction to the reasons behind the creation of the Record Use Council, the charge of the Council from the board of trustees, and how the framing of the discussion of the policy is guided by the values and history of OCLC the cooperative. There wasn’t much new here for those that have been following the progress of the policy discussion, so I am skipping over it most of it with the exception of a few notable topics. After that, I’m focusing on the lengthy question and answer session that followed Dr. Younger’s background presentation.
This morning I was at the OCLC Americas Regional Council Meeting just prior to the opening of the meeting. In addition to the prepared talks and remarks, there was a series of breakout sessions the end of the meeting. Ever sense the record use policy kerfuffle got started, I’ve been thinking more about the governenace aspects of OCLC as cooperative, so I attended the session on “The Cooperative’s Shared Values and Social Contract.” It was a very interesting discussion, and for several hours after my mind was spinning with implications of the heartfelt ideas contributed by those at the meeting. In the end, I’m stuck with this line of thinking, starting with a statement then a series of questions:
OCLC announced on Monday the availability of a new
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.