Monday, June 16, 2008

OCLC and Google Partnership Facilitates Research at University Libraries

In May, OCLC, a nonprofit computer library service and research organization with over 9,000 member libraries, reached an important agreement with Google Inc. to share data that will allow click-through linking between Google Book Search and local library catalogs.

This agreement means that Ball State students and faculty who are users of the Google search service will be able to move seamlessly from Google Book Search results to records in CardCat, the University Libraries’ Web-based online public access catalog (OPAC). This breakthrough will facilitate the discovery of the Libraries’ rich resources for teaching, learning, and research.

Under the terms of the OCLC/Google arrangement, OCLC member libraries who are participating in the massive digitization Google Book Search project will share their WorldCat metadata with Google. WorldCat is the searchable OCLC catalog of 1.2 billion items held by its member libraries. Of the 20 academic, national, and civic libraries involved in Google Book Search, 16 are OCLC members. Included among the Google partners are premier institutions such as Princeton, Harvard, Oxford, and New York Public Library.

While Google Book Search provides users with digital access to over one million full-text books through the Google interface, the OCLC agreement will powerfully assist users searching for books without online full text. Though Google is aggressively digitizing books indiscriminate of copyright, users can only read the entire text of books that are either in the public domain, books published before 1924 that are no longer protected by copyright law, or books that are made available through special access arrangements with the author or publisher. For Google Book Search titles with limited or unavailable online text, Google Book Search users will be routed to local library collections through OCLC’s WorldCat, collapsing the cumbersome research layers formerly necessary for locating books and other materials in the local OPAC.

The innovative partnership between OCLC and Google will serve the international library community by increasing the visibility of unique institutional collections. Even more importantly, the linking utility brings us strides closer to the reality of the digital dream of a library without walls, where the world’s knowledge resources are discoverable and accessible to global users.

For Ball State students and faculty, this functionality will simultaneously widen the research scope, allowing our students and faculty to locate relevant resources anywhere in the OCLC network, and it will efficiently empower all users to directly pinpoint locally accessible materials available through the significant collections of the University Libraries — our students and faculty’s ultimate destination for research, learning, and classroom enhancement.


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