Friday, November 28, 2008

OCLC Use Policy Details: Your Records

There has been a lot of excellent commentary about the proposed OCLC record use policy. What I want to do here is highlight a few details about the policy that I haven't seen discussed elsewhere. The first is...

Your original cataloging

There are two areas where it becomes important to identify "your records." The first is in section B.3 where "WorldCat record" is defined. In the final paragraph (top of p.2) it states:

An OCLC Member or Non-OCLC Member may Use or Transfer the following without complying with this policy: (i) a WorldCat Record designated in WorldCat as the Original Cataloging of the OCLC Member or Non-OCLC member...
In other words, your own original cataloging is not covered by this policy. That's good news, but the practical application of this may not be simple. The way to determine this is by reading the MARC 040 $a subfield, presuming that the system you used at the time set this correctly. There is also the fact that OCLC merges duplicate records, so two instances of original cataloging could become one in OCLC...

Then there's the issue of how this affects down-stream users. For example, if Library A gives a copy of all of its original cataloging to Library B, and says: "no restraints on use," is Library B still held to the policy in terms of its use of WorldCat Records? According to the policy (E.5):

Regardless of the source from which WorldCat Records are received, Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records is authorized solely by OCLC pursuant to this Policy.
This seems to contradict the "your original cataloging is not covered" clause, although perhaps contract law deals with these kinds of apparent conflicts in some neat way. I would say that your original cataloging is not considered a WorldCat Record (as defined in the policy) except that the language of the exception refers to the original cataloging records as WorldCat records.

Also not clear is how this relates to the request to include the OCLC policy field in exported records. Although it isn't stated here, it would seem that original cataloging records should not contain the statement. (Those records could, however, be given a CC license by the originating library.)

Your holdings

Another key area relating to a library's own records is section D on the transfer of WorldCat Records. Section D.1.a states that libraries can transfer WorldCat records of their own holdings to other Members and Non-Members. Holdings is defined in the glossary as the OCLC institutional symbol on the record.

Section D.3 gives the logical converse of that: that to transfer WorldCat records that aren't of your own holdings, you must obtain permission from OCLC. This places restrictions on any institution that has received records from others, and could have implications for union and consortial catalogs. There isn't any mention of consortial agreements in the policy, yet many libraries already share their records in one or more such databases.


Even if we work out the conceptual issues, both of these pose some real challenges in implementation since our bibliographic data today often does not clearly define the origin nor the source of the record, especially data that is not transmitted in MARC format. I'm really not at all sure that we could actually do what the policy requires.

1 comment:

Kelley McGrath said...

Karen, this is most of something I posted on Autocat, but wasn't sure whether you read that so I thought I would put it here since your post started me down this line of thinking...

I have been recently struggling to understand the implications of OCLC's new Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat® Records.

One aspect of this I am puzzling about is the relation between the entity in 040 $a and the entity that is entitled to consider the content of their version of the record in their local catalog to be their own original cataloging. Are these really always the same?

The policy says that "A bibliographic record in WorldCat is designated as the 'Original Cataloging' of the agency represented in the OCLC MARC 040 field, subfield a (original cataloging agency)." Greater rights are given for records that are considered a library's original cataloging (i.e. "An OCLC Member or Non-OCLC Member may Use or Transfer the following without complying with this Policy: (i) a WorldCat Record designated in WorldCat as the Original Cataloging of the OCLC Member or Non-OCLC Member").

How many derived records are out there for new editions where the only things that have been changed are the ISBN, the publisher, and/or the date? All the intellectual work was done by the original cataloging library and often enough the original mistakes aren't even corrected.

On the other hand, there are records that are so bad that the record in a library's local catalog might not even vaguely resemble the OCLC master record, but often they can't/won't update the record in question. This happened to me once when I got a record that was a BL CIP on which just about everything that could go wrong had. It was title main entry when it was primarily the writings of an African king. They had a subject heading for this king, but in an entirely different form than was in the NAF (to be fair, I think the name was a little hard to find and I had to poke around with keyword searches). This was the only time I ever knowingly put something that was probably a duplicate into OCLC because I couldn't bear that I had done all that work to figure out what was going on and no one else was going to be able to benefit.

What about all these encoding level 3 Baker & Taylor records in which half the time the only thing that is right is the ISBN? Are no libraries going to have "original cataloging" rights to most mainstream materials because B&T has preempted them (not that B&T would be left with anything worthwhile either)?

When I upgrade a pre-pub, vendor record for a video (which are usually reasonably useful, unlike the level 3s), I always go through and re-check everything except the s.h. and class schemes we don't use so I've really done all the work for original cataloging, but my library doesn't get any credit for that.