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OCLC: A Review

Auteur : Beall Jeffrey
Année de Publication : 0
Type : Article
Thème : Description matérielle (catalogage)

Résumé/Sommaire :


One of the suggested titles I was given for this chapter was “OCLC sucks.” But I rejected that title, for, despite the temptation to use it, I realized it was unfair, untrue, and perhaps even unwarranted. It’s easier to write a chapter that trashes an organization than it is to write one that presents an objective analysis of it. I’ve resisted the temptation to wholeheartedly trash OCLC, easy as that would have been. Instead, I aspire to the high road: objective analysis, keeping in mind that the word radical is in this book’s title. That’s not to say that OCLC is wonderful; it certainly is not. Indeed it is a malevolent organization at times, in the way that all large, rapacious, transnational conglomerates are.

There were two things that led me to reject that title for this chapter. One of them was a series of blog entries by Karen Schneider entitled, “How OPACs Suck.”1 Her title is specious, of course. OPACs do not suck; they have quietly and efficiently been linking researchers and others with desired information for about twenty years. They are a wonderful tool and represent the best implementation of metadata in the history of mankind. Seeing her use the word “suck” in a title in a supposedly reputable publication (the ALA TechSource Blog) looked really stupid to me. The use of that term in that context seemed wholly inappropriate, and I did not want to be guilty of such poor judgment. Who is the spineless editor that allowed such rubbish to be published?

The other thing that influenced me was an interview of Barbara Tillett that appeared in the blog Library Juice.2 The interview dealt partly with gadfly Sandy Berman’s harassment of the Library of Congress regarding its choice of terms for the Library of Congress Subject headings. In this interview she said:

Most of our correspondence contains helpful and constructive suggestions—what criticism we receive is simply not as he characterizes it. There is no onslaught of letters and emails and faxes from outraged librarians or researchers. For the most part, public criticism comes from Mr. Berman or other individuals he has urged to write to us. We’re more inclined to react favorably to constructive suggestions than to coercive techniques such as petitions, hostile articles in the library literature, emotional attacks, or letters of complaint to members of Congress. Methods such as these are almost always counterproductive, whereas more cooperative and positive approaches usually produce good results.3 That’s the approach I want to take in this article: the cooperative and positive one. If I have trouble sticking to that approach, it’s understandable, for OCLC claims to be a “member cooperative” when it is really a profit-hungry leech on libraries.

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