Wednesday, June 22, 2005


One piece of advice George, Cathy and I pass along to people when we do presentations is "go beta." By this we mean do what Google does, and try new things out, in public, live, with real people. Instead, many libraries still appear to be keeping things under wraps, waiting until everything is Perfect, planning for the "Rare Event" (as Marshall Keyes called it at a presentation I attended a while back).

Luckily, no one has had the chutzpah to counter our advice with a well-placed barb: "so where's OCLC's beta projects?" Because OCLC is much like many large organizations--libraries included. Nimbleness is not our middle name and the last big beta we did was the Open WorldCat Pilot last summer (we call our betas "pilots").

So I am very happy to report that we have some pilots we've just announced--and I realize we don't often use this space to talk about specific OCLC projects, products or services, but all these pilots most definitely fit with the IAG goal of covering all things present and future that impact libraries and library users.

Here's a list (and if I've left any out I hope OCLC colleagues will leave comments).

1. Jenny Levine mentioned the WorldCat Wiki on her blog, as well as a couple of the others. The idea is to have a Wiki that complements WorldCat, It will be released later this summer. People will be able to add reviews, cover art, comments to bibliographic records (maybe at the FRBR work-level). We're using the Metawiki software to build the Wiki part of it.

2. 'Ask a Librarian' pilot in Open WorldCat: OCLC has implemented a pilot project within the Open WorldCat program that allows Web searchers to submit questions to librarians through online reference services of OCLC member libraries.

3. OCLC will begin a pilot project later this month that will make it easy for library staff and patrons to find and use full-text electronic journals in library collections. The pilot will involve 20 libraries and four partners—TDNet, EBSCO, Serials Solutions and Ex Libris.

4. Terminologies pilot. OCLC is exploring a service that provides access to multiple controlled vocabularies for libraries, museums, and archives to create consistent metadata for their collections. Selected mappings between vocabularies are provided to assist in relating terminology. The service would provide one-stop access to terminology resources and would be accessible through any web-based metadata editor.

Here's a link to a presentation Lorcan Dempsey did for the May meeting of the OCLC Members Council that covers many of the topics listed above, as well as other cool things the staff in Research are working on, like FictionFinder, Curiouser, data mining, and a lot of other interesting and useful services.

And there's one other pilot coming up really soon that I can't give details on yet but it's one that will definitely help libraries and library users. We're hoping to announce that during ALA so watch this space!

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