Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Characteristics of Resources Represented in the OCLC CORC Database

Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Characteristics of Resources Represented in the OCLC CORC Database

Article excerpt

More and more libraries are providing access to Web resources through OCLC's Cooperative Online Resource Catalog (CORC) and, by extension, OCLC's WorldCat database. The ability to use a database to its maximum potential depends upon understanding what a database contains and the guidelines for its construction. This study examines the characteristics of Web resources in CORC in terms of their subject matter, the source of the content, publication patterns, and the units of information chosen for representation in the database.

The majority of the 414 resources in the sample belonged to the social sciences. Academic libraries and government agencies contributed more than 90% of the records for resources in the sample. Using the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2d edition (AACR2) definitions for publication patterns that are part of the upcoming 2002 amendments reveals that nearly half of the sample fell into the category of integrating resources. Identifying units of representation of the resources described was more difficult. Existing definitions for Web units in development are not adequate to describe all of the resources in the sample. In addition, there is wide variability in the units of representation chosen for inclusion by the libraries contributing records, resulting in little predictability in what units of information might be found in the database.

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One way for libraries to provide access to Web resources is simply to provide a connection to the Internet from public terminals. More and more, however, library staff are providing more than a connection. They are providing enhanced access by organizing and presenting those resources that they consider particularly useful to their users in ways that will help users find them. Some libraries are providing access through the library's Web page, using the library Web page as a portal for resources selected by traditional selection criteria. Others are providing access by including records representing Web resources in the online catalog so that users can find items covering the same subject matter, in all formats, from a single database. Many libraries are doing a combination of both.

One aid to librarians wishing to provide access to Web resources through the catalog is the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) Cooperative Online Resource Catalog service (CORC). For end-users, CORC is a subset of OCLC's Online Union Catalog, WorldCat, which offers descriptions and holdings information for millions of resources in all physical formats. Descriptions are contributed by participating libraries. The CORC portion of the database presents bibliographic records and pathfinders representing electronic resources. The bibliographic records are descriptions of electronic resources; the pathfinders are subject guides of resources on a topic. From a library processing point of view, CORC is a system for creating metadata to describe electronic resources. It also allows the metadata creator to choose from several encoding formats such as MARC, RDF, and HTML meta tags. If a record for a resource is in CORC, CORC works similarly to other OCLC input software in that the person processing the resource can c opy catalog and export the record into a local system. However, if there is no record for the resource in CORC, the CORC software creates the basic record. Inputting staff must provide a URL for the resource and choose from the offered metadata formats one to be used for the description. CORC then automatically creates a basic record for the resource, using software to harvest information from the resource itself. Once the basic record is created, staff edit the record and export it to the local system.

This article reports on a part of ongoing research at OCLC. This part of the project was a joint project of OCLC and the Ohio State University Libraries. The OCLC Web Characterization Project (http://wcp.oclc.org) addresses basic questions about the Web--how big it is, what it contains, how it is evolving. …

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