Tuesday, October 12, 2004

More on Library Lookup, Google, Yahoo, and OCLC

The Library Lookup ISBN Bookmarklet, which I posted about on September 24, 2004, is based on a pilot program from OCLC. OCLC opened a portion of its huge database of library records for Google and Yahoo to index and include in their search engines. (The Library Lookup ISBN Bookmarklet also uses another OCLC project, xISBN, which associates the ISBN's (sort of social security numbers for books) of related editions or versions. ) The pilot project includes 2 million records, covering about 12,000 libraries.

Now OCLC is opening its full database of 53 million records (15,000 libraries). Between November, 2004 and January, 2005, OCLC will let Google and Yahoo index the rest of the database. This will make the Bookmarklet even more useful for distance students. More information is available in the news article by Barbara Quint in Information Today, All of OCLC’s WorldCat Heading Toward the Open Web

However, not all libraries, especially local public libraries and private libraries, have their holdings in OCLC. Libraries can also choose to exclude their holdings from the OpenWorldCat project. In July, 2005, libraries who do not subscribe to certain services from OCLC will have their holdings withdrawn from the project. Again, this is most likely to affect smaller public and private libraries.

What does this mean to distance students and educators? Don't rely on technology to do your research for you. Get to know your local libraries, and check to see if they are appearing (and continue to appear) in the results for the Bookmarklet. If not, be sure to check them separately for your desired books. Educate yourself on what resources are available to you, including your Distance Education Librarian.

Some more questions and potential problems, plus links to more information, are available in a posting by Gary Price and Steven M. Cohen on ResourceShelf, OCLC Opens Up the Complete WorldCat Database to Web Engines and Other Partners.


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