Guardian Posts Corrections to Article on OCLC and Record Use Policy
The Guardian, a prominent UK newspaper, has published corrections to its article of January 22 in response to objections that OCLC communicated to the Guardian last week. The Guardian's corrections were published today and may be viewed in its "Corrections and Clarifications" page or at the beginning of the original article.
The January 22 article in the Guardian is built around what OCLC regards as a false premise (that OCLC reduces libraries' visibility on the Web). It states that OCLC shares "only 3 million" records with Google Books. This is not the case. OCLC shares nearly all of the database with Google Books and Google Scholar, with the exception being a relatively small amount of data that OCLC is contractually prohibited from sharing. This allows the "find in a library" links to be placed in those services, which drives traffic back to thousands of OCLC member libraries through WorldCat.org.
It is true that Google indexes only a subset of WorldCat records in the main index. This arrangement is based on advice from Google and is constantly reviewed. Based on recent exchanges we will move to a much more extensive crawl of the WorldCat database soon (while honoring the restrictions on some data sets that OCLC licenses from third parties).
What does not come across clearly in the article is that OCLC has for some time made WorldCat.org, the largest database in the world that represents library collections, freely available for searching on the Web, and that this allows people everywhere to do research and be connected to libraries.
As has been discussed on this blog and elsewhere, we know that WorldCat.org can be substantially improved, and OCLC is working hard to improve the links and make more libraries' collections visible.
The statement issued by the Guardian today addresses some other ways in which the article misrepresents OCLC and its revised record use policy.
As you may know, OCLC Members Council and the OCLC Board of Trustees have jointly convened a Review Board of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship to represent the membership and inform OCLC on the principles and best practices for sharing library data. The group will discuss the revised record use policy with OCLC members and other key stakeholders. Please watch for announcements of how to provide your input. In the meantime, comments and questions are invited at firstname.lastname@example.org.