Tuesday, February 16, 2010

WorldCat Local and Electronic Resources

One of our biggest frustrations with WorldCat Local has been the difficulties involved in surfacing e-book collections. The standard way of adding an ebook set to your catalog--uploading a file of MARC records provided by the vendor--doesn't surface records in WCL.

To get records for an e book set in WCL, you need to add records to your local ILS catalog, make sure those records have OCLC numbers in them and have your holdings set on the corresponding records in OCLC. This can be hard to achieve if vendor provided record sets don't have OCLC numbers on them to start with.

OCLC has an initiative in place to get vendor supplied MARC records into WorldCat, but agreements are not in place for all vendors and the process is somewhat cumbersome. Also, as I understand it, in some cases these vendor record sets aren't truly in WorldCat, they just show up in certain WorldCat Local instances where the library subscribes to the ebook collection. Effectively, this is creating "shadow" records in WorldCat that are only available to certain subscribers.

I really wish that we could just flip on and off collections of ebooks in WCL in the same way that one adds and removes collections of e journals in Serials Solutions' management interface. Having to load records into a local system and worry about connecting those records to OCLC records is a big hassle. I realize that there may be some vendor licensing issues that prevent this, but this seems like a good goal.

Perhaps there could be some kind of connection between Serials Solutions and OCLC along the same lines as their e serials holdings project that would achieve this sort of ease in adding and removing e book sets.

Another question to ask within the e book arena: why are we so dependent on vendors for bibliographic records? Libraries should be able to collectively catalog e book sets, especially in cases where the vendors want to hold their records tightly to their chest. Some kind of crowdsourcing application for cataloging an entire e book set might achieve this. Any libraries who want records for a certain e book set sign up, and the app divvies up cataloging between them.