Wednesday, February 21, 2007

WorldCat Registries

The new product initiatives are coming fast and furious at OCLC; I mentioned WorldCat Identies last week and this week we have a WorldCat Registry product for library institutions. I suspect the concept will be extended to other topical areas. In concept, registries combine existing database information resident with OCLC (making data work harder) and wiki-like functionality or social networking. Additionally, bulk data import may also be possible such as USPO change of address information but the end result is a resource for anyone interested in information about (in this case) libraries: their address and opening hours, their IP ranges, a profile of their collection and the products they subscribe to.

There are many other elements and functions which at this early stage will not be populated consistently however, the possibilities exist to create a 'community' site for library information. Registered librarians are able to designate an editor or administrator who can validate information about specific libraries and the idea is to create valuable information that can be used by patrons, sales reps, publishers, and anyone interested in library specific information.

What is great about this is that it is a web product that gets a running start because it is taking information that existed for other purposes and reasons recasts it and creates something new that has both relevance and scale. In other words, there is reason to come to the WorldCat Registry because from day one there is material amounts of data in the product.

More details are available via Lorcan Dempsey's Blog.

Here is a sample screen shot:
Access is currently free but registration is required and for anyone currently subscribing to American Library Directory, this is an interesting alternative to keep track of.

This is the ALD marketing blurb for those who are not familiar with the product:

"This acclaimed reference guide has provided librarians and library users with the most complete, current, and easily accessible information on libraries across North America for over half a century. In this new Web version, subscribers can find and view detailed profiles for more than 35,000 public, academic, special and government libraries, and library-related organizations in the United States, and Canada — including addresses, phone and fax numbers, and e-mail addresses, network participation, expenditures, holdings and special collections, key personnel, special services, and more — over 40 categories of library information in all.Free registered users can view physical address information only."

I think the free WorldCat registry product may already have more information than the free version available from ALD. In the case of the OCLC product the librarian is both customer/user and editor so they become engaged with the product in two ways which can be quite powerful. It will be interesting to see how the social aspects of this product develop and whether we will see a real community of interest(s) develop with the introduction of further technology.

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