Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Local Creation/Global Use

Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Local Creation/Global Use

Article excerpt

Bibliographic Data in the International Arena

OCLC has grown from the original group of Ohio academic libraries to 27,000 libraries located in North America, Europe, Asia, Latin American, and South Africa. Each of the records in WorldCat (the OCLC Online Union Catalog) is a local creation that is available for use across the globe for different purposes. Common issues that must be faced with the expansion of a bibliographic utility include cataloging standards, subject access in languages appropriate to the user, local needs versus global usefulness, and character sets. Progress has been made with the cooperative creation of an international name authority file and the uniform application of ISBD principles. A method of linking various subject vocabularies and an improved infrastructure of MARC formats and character sets are needed. Librarians need new automated tools to provide preliminary access to date available in electronic form and to assist them in organizing and storing that data.

At one point, I had thought of titling this article "It Takes a Village to Build a Bibliographic Database." Although I eventually rejected the title, I find the "village" metaphor still useful as I attempt to put the varied topics of the other articles in this volume into the practical context of a bibliographic service and its member libraries. As I am writing this from OCLC's perspective, my comments may or may not apply to other bibliographic services.

In OCLC's case, that village has become progressively larger as we have grown from the original Ohio academic libraries to 27,000 libraries in 64 countries. Each of the 39 million bibliographic records in WorldGat (the OCLC Online Union Catalog) is a local creation--the work of catalogers in one of those libraries--that can be enriched by catalogers in other institutions. These records are available for use across the globe for many different purposes, the same "generic tasks" that are the foundation of the IFLA Functional Requirements described by Madison in this volume.

Those many different purposes, which bibliographic data in large, shared databases serve, mirror the "cradle-to-grave" life cycle of a village. Bibliographic records are used for initial collection development and selection decisions--that is, bibliographic conception, to support the acquisitions process, and to provide the basis for cataloging and for recording holdings. Bibliographic and holdings data also support resource-sharing activities and can support collection management decisions that lead to weeding--bibliographic death, if you will.

As with life in any village, life in this "bibliographic village" has its ups and downs. There are disagreements; there are conflicts. The village may grow (sometimes dramatically). The environment can change. I'd like to look at aspects of village life and identify some common threads in how the village has adapted that relate to what we have heard today.

The Village Is Ohio

The original OCLC village consisted of a group of Ohio academic libraries who came together to share bibliographic data in hopes that they would reduce their costs. Even within that relatively homogenous group, there were needs for both shared, standardized data and individual, local flexibility. Those needs were reflected in various ways. Advisory committees formed to set standards for input of records, and fairly early on committee members identified the need for various levels of record content. They also identified the parallel need for the ability of one library to add to and to enhance records created by another library when those additions and enhancements would support the common good of other village members.

The strong emphasis on building a shared database to support both cataloging and resource sharing also brought with it efforts to convert older cataloging into machine-readable form. Village members spent much time discussing how to integrate cataloging created under older rules, as well as older classification numbers and subject headings, with current cataloging as efficiently as possible and without requiring complete recataloging. …

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