Monday, July 16, 2007

OCLC Unveils WorldCat Local Pilot

Imagine having access to information about your own institution’s library resources along with those of more than 9,000 libraries around the world in one seamless search and delivery interface. That and more is what the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), Inc., envisions for WorldCat Local, its latest initiative to make access to information as easy as possible for users.

On June 14, 2007, over 70 registrants in Indianapolis and at satellite locations in Indiana attended a presentation on WorldCat Local given by Mindy Pozenel, OCLC Global Product Manager, WorldCat Discovery Services. Pozenel also demonstrated the public beta version of WorldCat Local, currently implemented at the University of Washington,

As explained by Pozenel, WorldCat Local is a new discovery and delivery service, built on and configured to work with a library’s existing local systems and services, including the integrated library system (ILS), resource sharing software, open URL link resolver, and proxy server.

With WorldCat Local, users at OCLC member institutions are able to search the entire WorldCat database and display results beginning with those that are in locations most accessible to the individual researcher, whether it is his or her home library, other libraries in a consortium, or another member WorldCat library in a nearby community.

Searching is accomplished through a single, customizable search box from a locally branded interface that retains the look and feel of the home library’s own online catalog. Interoperability with locally maintained circulation systems means that the patron is able to see the item’s location, local call number, and status (available, checked out, due date, library use only, etc.) in holding libraries. The researcher may then place a hold, search for online availability, or initiate an Interlibrary Loan request.

Since WorldCat Local is based on, it is populated with the resources of all OCLC member libraries and shares functional features of, including:
• Results displays that use one record to represent multiple versions of a title
• Relevancy ranking of search results giving most accessible first
• Faceted browse capability
• Citation formatting options
• Enrichment and evaluative content, such as cover art, reviews, excerpts, etc.

New content added to will be made accessible automatically through WorldCat Local. A recent addition is the more than 30 million article citation records from four OCLC FirstSearch databases (ArticleFirst, GPO, Medline, and ERIC), allowing users to locate libraries where they can access full text through databases or link resolver services licensed by the library or by requesting articles via document delivery. Future plans call for the expansion of access to public domain and open access collections.

Other future enhancements include social and collaborative services that will allow users to set up public or private profiles for such purposes as
• Reviewing or rating WorldCat resources
• Creating/maintaining personalized lists of resources
• Receiving RSS feeds/alerts
• Consulting maps and calendars
• Participating in online groups, forums, and clubs drawn from an aggregated user base of more than 9,000 WorldCat libraries

Exciting as WorldCat sounds, there are important issues for OCLC to resolve before the product’s general release, currently projected for late 2007. Some of these are the following:

• OCLC has yet to develop a pricing model and is still wrestling with ways to display local ownership and status information for serial publications. If WorldCat Local is to be successful, resolution of the serials issue is particularly crucial.
• A challenge is how to make discoverable those local collections, which many libraries have but which are not represented by records in WorldCat, including those cataloged through third party vendors.
• OCLC is still in the process of testing interoperability with the major ILS vendors, including SirsiDynix, the integrated library information system used by Ball State University Libraries.

WorldCat Local bears watching as a number of additional pilot sites in California and Illinois are brought up later this summer. With many libraries struggling to provide their clientele with convenient access to resources, regardless of format or source, WorldCat Local is a promising first step in the effort to create an unbroken discovery-to-delivery experience for the information seeker.

For more information, contact Sharon A. Roberts, Ball State University Libraries’ Assistant Dean for Collection Resources Management,, (765) 285-1305.

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