Wednesday, September 9, 2009

WorldCat Local Review

I've written a fair amount in the abstract about the benefits of and WorldCat Local.

At Watzek, we launched "L&C WorldCat" around July 1. Here are some thoughts based on my experience with the implementation.
  • There is already a sense developing at our school that "everything" is in or should be in WorldCat Local. People expect all articles and books to be there (even though they aren't). I may post more on this later.
  • Compared with launching an III OPAC, the process of bringing WCL up is refreshingly simple. They have consciously limited customization to the very basics (logo, colors, etc.)
  • Even so, as I've said before in this blog, I'd prefer a greater level of customize-abilty, kind of on the level of Blogger. Give me full access to the stylesheet. Let me add code snippets.
  • It's backward that the software pulls in live holdings data for print items from your ILS, but can't pull in links to digital content from your link resolver. When students come upon an article, they want the direct link to it up front, not a click or two away. OCLC should scrape resolvers like they do ILSs to embed link resolver links in records for articles.
  • I'm excited about the idea of OCLC partnering with content providers like EBSCO and indexing their content in WC. One thing I speculated on when writing the Digital Libraries book in '06 was that following on the success of search engines, meta indexing services for library content would eventually emerge. We now see that with Serials Solutions Summon and WorldCat.
  • The idea of also incorporating in traditional real-time meta-searching seems like a backward compromise: OCLC should be firm with content providers and resolve to only incorporate content that they can put into their index.
  • The stats module for WCL is basically a commercial web analytics package slapped onto WCL with a few limited custom reports. Basically, you can look at your site traffic and search terms being used.
  • I like the idea of using standard web analytics software on WCL, but please let me drop the code snippet in for Google Analytics.
  • If they did some url rewriting so as to map some of the search/browsing activity to clean URL paths (eg "/author/" "/title/" "/facet/video/") web analytics software becomes more useful because you can collate together like activities based on url paths.
  • For a minute, I was thinking that to provide access to an e book package we purchased through WCL, all we'd need to do is "flip the switch" and activate our holdings for those records in WCL, forget about ILS records. But then I remembered: the URLs to that package need to go through our proxy server so they need to be drawn from our ILS. WCL is not making our lives easier yet.
  • A little off the subject, but now that OCLC owns EZproxy, aren't they in a great position to develop some better, more graceful form of remote authentication than proxy? OCLC could act as a trusted third party and provide single sign on to content provider websites.
I will likely post more comments at a later time.

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