Cliff Landis on OCLC & the 2.0 World Cat

Cliff Landis reports a converation Laura Endress of OCLC about upcoming social features of WorldCat. Cliff then offers a little rant: (emphasis mine)

For users to add content to WC.org will take a big shift for OCLC, who have always seemed to me to set up barriers to end-users making any sort of comment on WorldCat (there’s no “report this record” button anywhere, and my attempts as a reference librarian to report bad records have seen no response in the past).

I mentioned to Laura that a lot of the things that they’re trying to do, LibraryThing is already doing–successfully. Many LibraryThing users are librarians, and there’s nothing an altruistic librarian loves more than enhancing a record for the future benefit of others. The great thing about LibraryThing is that you can talk to other users and find out what it is that they want. LibraryThing’s blog also enhances that transparency by responding quickly to the needs/wants of users (unheard of from most traditional library vendors). If I want to email for help, I’ve got six names and addresses a single click from the homepage. It makes LibraryThing seem like they…well…care. That creates a community of users who care.

I’ve found plenty of errors in WorldCat–and that’s easy enough to do with differing interpretations of all the rules and standards that we library-folk have (and no, I’m not taking part in the RDA debate here).

I believe that if WorldCat.org:

  • facilitated community in its end users,
  • opened up records to those users to edit (even on a “with review” basis),
  • responded quickly (or at all!) to the needs of its end users (which includes librarians),
  • was transparent it what it is doing,

that we would see a quickly improved WorldCat. The days of the gatekeepers are over. Let go of the keys.

Well said! The up and comers and ultra popular that have clicked with users have certainly bought into the open, participatory nature of social tools. I think Cliff offered some candid advice that many of our LIS vendors should heed: “…And that’s what I told Laura–more than anything else, you should be listening to your users.”

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