“The very name WorldCat is a mockery to the 80 percent of the world’s libraries… shut out…because they cannot afford to pay”
No license for OCLC
In 2013, I will be rotating off of the OCLC Global Council, where I have been a one-issue delegate on the subject of putting the World into WorldCat, so I am responding to your exit interview with Jay Jordan (Michael Kelley & Francine Fialkoff, “End of an Era at OCLC,” LJ 5/1/12, p. 18–20). The response for the past ten years has been, “Yes, we need to do something about that, but we can’t give up our primary revenue stream, so do you have any ideas?” I was the lone vote against the license Jordan defends [here] with such vigor. My reasons for voting as I did are for larger concerns than the value to OCLC of having a license….
That vote was against OCLC’s exclusionary response for the past ten years to the needs of small and rural libraries and its claims of copyright to a compilation that is in large part contributed by member libraries that pay OCLC for the privilege to upload records into WorldCat. My vote opposed the fee for services mentality at OCLC, which is antithetical to the very purpose for which the network exists—resource sharing.
OCLC must address the overemphasis on major academic and research libraries and collections and librarians representing these libraries. There was an opportunity to correct the balance on the OCLC board…but didn’t because the vast majority of those voting represent academic libraries. These issues are typical of the many problems I see with OCLC administration as it has been under Jay Jordan.
The very name WorldCat is a mockery to the 80 percent of the world’s libraries shut out of the network because they cannot afford to pay. Even for those that are members, access to the network is unequal when it should be absolutely equal…. We have a graded fee scale that provides better, more comprehensive WorldCat services to large libraries that can afford to pay more. If OCLC were a business, this would be fair. But OCLC is not a business—it is a nonprofit, membership-driven organization. The OCLC administration, under Jordan, has controlled and manipulated price structures, appointments of members to boards and committees, and access.
It is possible now to open WorldCat so every library in the world could share the records at no cost. OCLC is unwilling to do that because the sale of access to WorldCat is OCLC’s primary revenue stream. OCLC must give up this revenue stream and find other ways to sustain itself. To provide resources based only on ability to pay runs counter to everything [OCLC founder] Fred Kilgour stood for and everything libraries represent.
I voted against the license because I smell a rat. It is said to be a simple restriction on member libraries to allow OCLC to claim compilation copyright of the items in WorldCat. I believe…the real goal is to limit access of all libraries everywhere to WorldCat unless they pay for it. It is a thinly disguised ruse to tighten the screws on libraries that have found ways to circumvent OCLC and gain access to WorldCat records for free. Free, as they should be to…every library regardless of size in the entire world….
—Mark Pumphrey, Asst. Dir., El Paso P.L., TX
Reaction from the right
Couldn’t have said it better myself (John Berry, “Library Jobs in the New Society,” Blatant Berry, LJ 4/15/12, p. 10). The vast problem is, of course, that the political right is going to see anything resembling a “truth squad” of libraries and librarians as partisan politics and raise holy Ned. Yes, we need a source of verifiable information, and I have been trying to nudge my public library students in this direction, but my fear is that the political powers that be are going to react to any criticism of the right in a way that will not do libraries any good. Still, we should fight the fight.
—Charles A. Seavey, Prof., SLIM,
Emporia State Univ., KS
Stress needs an outlet
In response to the anonymous opinion “Let ’em eat pizza” (Feedback, LJ 3/15/12, p. 11), which said, “Having a therapy dog help coddle the poor stressed-out students during finals is the worst idea ever!” I don’t see any reasoning behind this opinion. Having therapy animals visit during finals is actually quite simple. One of our student groups worked with an incredibly cooperative organization to do it. Then it “rented” animals to students during finals so it cost us absolutely nothing and was almost no work for us. More and more, we see stress leading to tragic violence. Stress needs a healthy outlet whether it’s in a nursing home or a school. This is not coddling or helicoptering, it’s just keeping an open mind to new solutions. But by all means, keep stuffing them with pizza and passing out stress balls.
—Crissy Brown, Access Svcs. Libn., Pacific McGeorge Sch. of Law, Sacramento, CA
Data was reversed for Austria and Australia in Table 2, Average 2012 Price Per Title by Country, on p. 29 of “Coping with the Terrible Twins: Periodicals Price Survey” (LJ 5/1/12, p. 28–32). The correct data is: Austria, 25 ISI titles at an average price of $2,780 per title; Australia, 50 ISI titles at an average price of $635. We regret the error.