Monday, October 29, 2007

Impress Your Professor: What if there was a library that held every book on the planet?

or, The End of OCLC?

Often when I'm doing research I do a keyword search in the library catalog, a really good boolean search, with AND and OR and w/5, and I get a list of 15 hits or so, scroll down, look at the titles, and wish I had more information than the OPAC record give me before I go hunting in the stacks.

Open Library may be the answer to my problems, and the true Library 2.0. Open Library wants to give every book on the planet a web page that collects all the information known about that book - library records, publisher information and promotional materials, scans, full-text PDFs, reviews, links to buy, borrow, or download each book, and anything else that is relevant. The book pages are "structured wikis." According to the Open Library website, the library catalog and content will be created and curated by anyone who wants to contribute.

The site will store all the different category systems and let people choose what they want - LOC, Dewey, tagging, as well as the different ways to categorize books - ISBN, OCLC.

They want to do a "scan on demand" feature that would be a way to pay for the digitization of out-of-print books.

Aaron Swartz is leading the Open Library team. Most of their funding comes from Internet Archive. Currently they have about 10 million catalog records, mostly from the Library of Congress and the University of North Carolina. Publishers have also been very cooperative in giving records. OCLC has refused to give their records to the project, since they profit from cataloging records. Swartz claims that Open Library is " OCLC killer."

I am excited about the possibility of doing a keyword search in the Open Library catalog and coming up with a list of titles linked to reviews, author information, a list of libraries in my area holding a copy...

What will become of OCLC if Open Library takes off? What will become of libraries? Is this the face of the real Library 2.0?

I hope we can talk over all of these things at our wonderful event on November 7 with our distinguished panelists who have just returned from the National ASIS&T Conference. I am sure that each one has a very interesting opinion on this matter. Please join us at 6:30 pm in the May Gallery of the Mullen Library on the campus of The Catholic University of America. If you haven't already registered, please do so by November 6!

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