“the proposed policy is legally murky…”

There’s a quotation that I like that we bat around in activist circles a lot “Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” attributed to Margaret Mead. I like to apply this to some of my library struggles, saying that if I don’t point out things that I think are going wrong, who will? And that if I do make noise about things, maybe they will change. We’ve seen an example of this playing out over the past year with OCLCs new proposed policy and the pushback it received — starting small but gaining momentum — to the point where the general push of the old-new policy (OCLC retaining restrictive rights to records created by others) is off the table according to this post on LibraryThing. Good. Nice job team.

I have less of an opinion on OCLC entering the OPAC market because none of my libraries can afford them, still. I do believe that more sharing is a good thing, data monopolies are a bad thing, and murky policies that consolidate power anywhere other than “with the people” isn’t really solving a problem for libraries in general.

It’s time now for the library world to step back and consider what, if anything, they want to do about restricting library data in a fast-moving, digital world. Some, including some who’ve deplored OCLC’s process and the policy, want restrictions on how library data is distributed and used. Once monopoly and rapid, coerced adoption are off the table, that’s a debate worth having, and one with arguments on both sides.

2 Responses to ““the proposed policy is legally murky…””

  1. Chuck Says:

    When I first read about OCLC moving into the ILS market with a cloud-like product I had the same concern that I do about SaaS- lack of control of library data. When a library owns its servers, along with all the expense and trouble of maintaining them comes the benefit of local access and increased control. While I understand the thinking that goes into SaaS and like services (mainly the expectations of having to fund an IT staff otherwise,) I think (and hope) the future trend is towards library automation systems that rely less on arcane expertise combined with the increased technical knowledge of future librarians. Although, as a soon-to-be-graduating MLS student, I am disappointed by library schools not encouraging, mentoring, creating programs that produce librarians with systems expertise. That’s a gripe for another day.

  2. Jonathan Harwell Says:

    Re OCLC entering the OPAC market: the “Quick Start” version of WorldCat Local is free to WorldCat subscribers. It basically provides an interface similar to worldcat.org but sorts the results first by location then by relevance. It’s the paid “full” version that incorporates EBSCOhost into the search results. I’ve been thinking about using the Quick Start as an alternative WorldCat database interface rather than a “new catalog.”