Earlier today, OCLC posted the recording [Flash] and presentation slides [PDF] from Jennifer Younger’s presentation to the Members Council updating them on the progress of the Review Board of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship. Although the work of the Review Board is not yet complete, they are recommending the “policy should be withdrawn.” They also acknowledge a ‘gap problem’ in understanding the role of OCLC and the social underpinnings of the cooperative. Oddly (my interpretation) this seems to be couched in a generation gap between those around when OCLC was founded and those that have come after: “But as new generations of members come into our ranks, it becomes more difficult to explain the social contract that is OCLC.” I detect a hint of us-versus-them thinking, but I hesitate to mention it and almost didn’t include it here because it is based on such a flimsy foundation. Jennifer’s report also lists some initial questions to consider in a process of forming a new policy. She acknowledges that this is work that the members of the review board need to tackle before presenting the final report.
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?
In roughly a week, the OCLC membership through the Members Council will hear of the preliminary findings from the Review Board of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship. The Review Board was tasked with formulating recommendations in response to the community’s objections to the proposed Record Use policy. The charter for the Review Board says that “delegates will discuss the report at the May Members Council meeting….” In anticipation of this event, I posed this question to email@example.com: is the review board planning on publicly posting a draft report prior to the meeting so the Members Council delegates can bring community feedback to the meeting?
Dr. Jennifer Younger, director of libraries at the University of Notre Dame and chair of the of the review board, replied and gave permission to post her response widely:
Last week, OCLC announced a “strategy to move library management services to Web scale.” With this move, OCLC is rebranding “WorldCat Local” to include functions typically associated with an integrated library system. From the press release:
OCLC plans to release Web-scale delivery and circulation, print and electronic acquisitions, and license management components to WorldCat Local, continuing the integration of library management services to create the Web-scale, cooperative library service. OCLC will begin piloting the Web-scale management service components this year.
The OCLC Review Board on Shared Data Creation and Stewardship is conducting a survey to gather opinions on OCLC’s proposed Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records. The survey is 6 pages long and took me about 20 minutes. After the demographic information, the survey asks about your organization’s practices for acquiring and sharing cataloging data. This is followed by a series of questions stating your preference for the existing and the proposed policies, how those policies affect your organization’s plans, and opinions about the roles of OCLC and WorldCat in sharing bibliographic records. You are then offered a chance to provide your contact information to the external research organization gathering the data. (The survey states that this information will not be provided to the OCLC review board.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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.
Members of the Review Board of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship are:
- Christopher Cole (FEDLINK): Associate Director for Technical Services, National Agricultural Library
- Poul Erlandsen (EMEA): Head, Document Access Services and Collection Management, Danish University of Education, National Library of Education
- Pat French (OCLC Western): Manager, Collection and Technical Services, Multnomah County Library
- Clifford A. Lynch: Executive Director, Coalition for Networked Information (CNI)
- Brian E. C. Schottlaender (OCLC Western): The Audrey Geisel University Librarian, UC San Diego Libraries
Nearly a week after it was posted, I came across a posting by Karen Calhoun of OCLC summarizing her impressions of the ALCTS Forum at Midwinter. I thought I had been closely watching the dialog around the policy, so I was surprised when I came across it. That makes me want to write this open letter:
At ALA Midwinter, ALCTS sponsored a panel discussion about sharing library-created data inside and outside the library community, with a particular focus on cataloging data. I was honored to be ask to speak on the topic from the perspective of a consortial office. This is the second and final post in a series that represents an approximation of what I said on the panel.
The first part examined the nature of surrogate records that we create as a means to get users to content. The post looked at where we get records, how humans and machines can create them, and the rights associated with component data that makes up the records.