WorldCat Local is oh so special

After nearly eight months at OCLC Research, I’m finally doing my first blog post. Why am I so intimidated at the prospect? Finally, Merrilee can stop pestering me to get off the dime.

Some of you may be aware that OCLC established a WorldCat Local Special Collections Task Force last summer. This happened quickly after Matt Goldner, Executive Director of End-User Services, became aware from the special collections community that Local is missing lots of information that we need for both display and indexing. The group of experts that got together for this task worked industriously throughout the fall and submitted a detailed report to OCLC in December.OCLC has now sent its response back to the Task Force Both reports are linked from the RBMS Bibliographic Standards Committee website

The WorldCat Local detailed record display is the same as that used in the open-access interface, which is designed to be a simple one that’s easily intelligible to the general public searching the open web. One big issue for our research-oriented needs is that very few note fields display—a particular problem for archival materials, since so much meaningful record content is in the MARC 5xx fields. Happily, there is really good news: all the notes will display when a new detailed record display is implemented later this spring.

The most intransigent issue raised by the task force is the need for institution-specific information to be fully indexed and displayed. In contrast with notes, this is chiefly of concern to the rare book community, for which copy-specific data is both routine and of central importance. Local data is a sticky wicket, since WorldCat uses the “master record” concept; this means that OCLC has never had to store libraries’ local data, including edition-general content that isn’t part of the master record (local data from RLG’s former RLIN system is an exception to this, but that’s another story and applies to a small minority of OCLC contributing members). In part because libraries submit their holdings data to WorldCat in different ways, the WorldCat Local team and other OCLC metadata services staff are thinking hard about how to tackle this problem. They’re committed to meeting the community’s needs, so stay tuned.

Lots of other issues are addressed in the two reports. Take a look and let us know what you think. Address your comments to Matt Goldner, who deserves the credit for having responded so readily to the special collections community. Thanks, Matt! Thanks also to Mela Kircher, who was in the lead on preparing OCLC’s response. And thanks to everybody who contributed to the work of the task force. And thanks to Merrilee for badgering me to get blogging …

Jackie Dooley leads OCLC Research projects to inform and improve archives and special collections practice.