OCLC to convene a Review Board of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship

From the OCLC news release:

First off, I think that this is a good thing for a couple of reasons.

  1. I take this development as a sign that OCLC has heard the membership, heard some of their concerns and has agreed to take some additional time to have further discussion with the membership.  For that, thank you.
  2. It gives the OCLC membership time to look at the presently proposed policy and consider if this policy reflects the direction that the membership wishes to take the library profession.

So, where do we go from here.  Looking over the news release, it appears that the proposed policy will be the base-line for discussion — the starting point.  So it will be up to the member council and identified library experts to look at this policy and consider how it can best be modified to meet the stated goals of modernizing the record use and transfer policy.  While I very much doubt (though, personally would like to) I will be one of the folks asked to the table, I still have hopes that this process could yield a much more open and friendly record transfer policy.  I’ve discussed this with some folks from the members council, but I honestly believe that OCLC and WorldCat would see the greatest benefit if it simply let WorldCat go — releasing the data through an Open Data license.  I realize that for some, there is a fear that this might devalue OCLC in some way — but I personally doubt it.  As a membership organization, OCLC is able to leverage is large repository of holdings information — which will continue to allow them to build new and interesting services for libraries — whether WorldCat is available for download or not.  I.E. for OCLC members, WorldCat likely isn’t the primary reason why they are members — so I have a difficult time seeing how loosening the reins on WorldCat could be problematic.

Anyway, the announcement is good news in that it will buy the OCLC membership (and library community) time to more fully consider what the current proposed transfer policy would mean to libraries and hopefully help shape a document that is much more in line with the library community’s core values related to the access and sharing of information.  And hopefully, as this policy is considered, the membership council does keep the library community (not just membership) in mind when considering this decision so that any provisions placed on the transfer of records from WorldCat doesn’t poison the transfer of records downstream for other members (both commercial and non-commercial) of the library community.