Saturday, July 22, 2006

Free WorldCat!

WorldCat is going to be free to the world! According to this story in Information Today, it will go live sometime in August.

So what? You may ask. Or even, What the heck is WorldCat and why is she so excited about it? This is the mega-catalog of over 70 million book records shared by libraries worldwide. When their "find in a library" program was announced I thought it was cool, but the links to library availability weren't easy to find in a general search, and it was only a miniscule mere 3-4 million records. "Why not make the whole thing free and searchable in one place rather than hidden among a billion bookseller links?" I wondered. Well, finally OCLC will do that. Previously the only public access has been through libraries subscribing to it as a database, just another hard-to-figure-out database among dozens.

I'm excited! And it sounds as if the interface could do some very innovative things. It will be terrific if people can hop on the web and find out what's available in area libraries without having to go to specific library sites and figure out their various catalogs. If we want people to find us, we should be as easy to use as ABEbooks and Amazon. Because we know from their experience people really do want books.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

But ... there's a catch. Darn. Your library must not only be an OCLC member but must subscribe to WorldCat to have your holdings included in the public version. This is no doubt a responsible financial decision but what a drag when it basically means libraries without the means to subcribe (nor the need for their patrons to pay for it) will be invisible. That bugs me. I should have called it "Not Really Free WorldCat."

In Minnesota the state subscribes on the behalf of all of its libraries but not everyone lives in a state with such a wise bunch of legislators (or as persuasive a library promoter as our St. Bill DeJohn.)