Thursday, November 06, 2008
What about Cooperative Effects?
By Arthur Smith
Every time I glance at my RSS feeds I'm up over my boots in discussions about network effects. The example people give is the original Bell telephone concept (1908) that more telephones make each telephone more valuable. The positive effects of more telephones, eventually extend to people who don't own telephones. That is, networks create effects for those who don't directly contribute to the networks themselves. WorldCat.org affects every non-network child who listens to a book read by the librarian who found the book on WorldCat.
Working outside the USA, I'm often reminded of how our members, quite independently of OCLC itself, have the potential to extend the benefits of the cooperative resources to non-member librarians. Often, in fact, to people who may never have heard of OCLC.
Recently David Hirsch, Librarian for Middle Eastern Studies at UCLA, was a guest lecturer in Dakar. David's subject was not OCLC, but, more generically. cataloging, ILL, reference, etc. However, David chose Connexion and WorldCat.org as the platforms for his discussions, to give the librarians in Dakar their first introduction to OCLC.
William Kopycki, Middle East Studies Bibliographer at the University of Pennsylvania, was recently asked to teach courses in Armenia about WorldCat services. This was something the Armenian librarians had been introduced to through their participation in a consortium of multinational libraries called AMICAL. William also "taught OCLC" as part of the IFLA Meetings of Experts on an International Cataloging Code (IME ICC) in Cairo.
Thanks goes out once again to OCLC members who continue to generate positive network effects for the extended global community of libraries and library users.