OCLC


OCLC’s six-month Expert Community Experiment, which began in February, is now a little past the halfway point. The latest in a long series of initiatives aimed at enhancing the quality of bibliographic records in WorldCat, the experiment allows member libraries with full-level cataloging authorizations “to correct, improve and upgrade all WorldCat master records, with the exception of PCC records (BIBCO and CONSER records). Library of Congress records that are not PCC records are included in the Experiment.”

FAQs on the experiment are here, or just scroll down in the page linked above.

If your institution is interested in being part of the experiment, there is no application process; you can start right in. If you have enhanced WorldCat records before, the procedure is essentially the same as what you have already followed, except that, as noted in Chapter 5 of Bibliographic Formats and Standards, “The record replace restrictions based on authorization modes in this chapter are superseded during the Expert Community Experiment.”

Needless to say, with the kind of power OCLC is giving us comes responsibility. Please don’t participate until you have read the Guidelines for Experts and are honestly confident that you are prepared to follow them. It would be helpful to view the recorded Expert Community Experiment Webinar as well.

So far, OCLC reports that the experiment is going well. Karen Calhoun remarked at the Illinois OCLC Users’ Group annual meeting last Friday that the “cataloging wars” some had feared have not materialized.

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“The Terminologies Service provides access to multiple controlled vocabularies to help you create consistent metadata for your library, museum, or archive collections. Now it’s as easy as copy-and-paste into a workform or template once you find a term to use in your description, improving the description of (and access to) your digital and hard copy materials.

“The Service can be integrated with Connexion or used as a standalone tool to copy terms into a variety of metadata editors including the one available in OCLC’s CONTENTdm software.”

The Terminologies Service currently incorporates 11 vocabularies, including AAT, GSAFD, MeSH, TGN, and TGM I and II. I haven’t used it, but it seems like a handy aid for institutions using multiple thesauri. Installation is free with Connexion, and there are several online tutorials for both installation and use.

OCLC’s WorldCat search capabilities have expanded enormously since PRISM days. If you want to spend a long time exploring everything available to you in WorldCat searching, take a look at Searching WorldCat Indexes: “comprehensive information about indexes used to retrieve records from WorldCat.” This will let you go quite deep into such matters as indexing and search enhancements.

For more accessible and quicker reference, this document links to several interface-specific guides, including Connexion: Searching WorldCat Quick Reference, applicable to both the browser and the client; Cataloging: Search WorldCat for the client, and Find Bibliographic Records for the browser. There are also links to configuration guides for OCLC Z39.50 access to cataloging and to FirstSearch.

If you haven’t already done so, you can still fill out the OCLC Policy Survey being conducted by the Independent OCLC Review Board.  Closing date for the survey is April 8.  This survey is gathering individual opinions about the proposed revisions to the Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat® Records.

Information about the old policy and the proposed new policy as well as the Review Board are available at the survey link above.

Some already published institutional responses:

OLAC

Smithsonian Libraries

ARL

I mentioned earlier how confusing OCLC’s Web site can be, with all its varied content (as well as all the changes OCLC has made to the site from time to time). For catalogers, one of the most useful starting points here is Librarian’s Toolbox:

www.oclc.org/toolbox/default.htm

Among the resources linked from the Toolbox are:

Bibliographic Formats and Standards

Authorities: Format and Indexes (“details on selected topics that catalogers need to identify and verify information in bibliographic and/or authority records via the OCLC® authority file”)

Technical Bulletins (only those still in effect; all have been incorporated into Bibliographic Formats and Standards, according to OCLC. Since 2003, the Technical Bulletins have not been available in print.)

OCLC System Alerts

Also linked from OCLC’s Support page. The System Alerts, which include known issues and their status, are useful when you’re encountering problems and are wondering if it’s just you, though comments on system problems usually show up sooner on the OCLC-CAT mailing list.

There are also links to OCLC’s error-reporting forms (all have links to their PDF versions, in case you need to send proof):

Authority Record Change Request

WorldCat Record Change Request (what some of us used to know as the Bibliographic Record Change Request)

WorldCat Duplicate Record Merge Request

(So pervasive has the problem of duplicate records become, even in English-language books, that I just have this form open when I catalog. In the Connexion client full record display, you can right-click on the highlighted “OCLC” in the upper left corner next to the OCLC control number and copy in a single keystroke [correction: mouse click, on “Copy Control Number”] the control number, which you can then paste into the appropriate box in the Merge Request form.)

By the way, if you do need to use the PDF versions of these forms with proof from the resource you’re cataloging, you no longer need to mail them in to your network as some of us used to do; you can simply fax them to the number given on the form.

Remember that the MARC Code lists are no longer published by OCLC; you’ll look in vain to a link to them from Librarian’s Toolbox. OCLC does provide a convenient list of links here, though.

Visiting OCLC’s Web site is a little like being dropped down in the middle of London. It’s huge and crammed with valuable content. And, like London’s Tube, OCLC’s “internet tubes” are fast and ubiquitous; you can, indeed, get there from here. But how? And how do you find out where “there” is, or even that a particular “there” exists? Other entries in this category will, we hope, help sort that out for you. (Think of us as the Lonely Planet guide to OCLC, if you will.) Meanwhile, here’s the home page:

www.oclc.org/us/en/default.htm

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