Friday, February 01, 2008

WorldCat Local is Here! (at Ohio State)

One of the hot topics on the library blogosphere in a past year or so has been about how the ILS is broken. I feel that the situation is of our own making since libraries continue to license monolithic and closed ILS systems, but I digress.

The Ohio State University Libraries is one of the groups that has been working with OCLC to pilot WorldCat Local. WorldCat Local creates a locally branded interface and the ability to search the entire WorldCat database. Well, there is finally something to see!

The first thing that jumped off the screen was the faceted browse! (Now, is that so hard to do?) It also presents the results beginning with items most accessible to the customer including collections from the home library, collections shared in a consortium (in our case OhioLINK), and open access collections. The system aggregates monographs, articles from databases and web resources.

After playing with Local for only 5 minutes I decided I may never use the native III interface again. Here's what a search of my name reveals. (Note: I know nothing about the role of PSD-95 in AMPA receptor clustering and synaptic plasticity or the optimization of a thermal transfer printer with ink layer reformation mechanism).

WorldCat Local is currently just an alternative discovery experience with OSU's III system still there in the background, with all the bibliographic data locked in. (I have always been unhappy with III. I also can't be the only one to think that the name Innovative Interfaces is a kind of a misnomer. I suspect we will see an SOA III system sometime in 2012. Once again, I digress.)

While Local still relies upon a local ILS installation, I see this as the first step in demonstrating how an ILS can be built by decoupling the pieces. With a more modular approach to ILS design, each of the services (circulation, authentication) and the presentation layer could be replaced or updated with minimal impact on the overall system/service.

With such an ILS a library could assemble a custom system built on top of the OCLCV bibliographic database. Such a system would not have to rely upon a built-in services, but could 'plug in' modules from commercial vendors or build them locally (or consortium --wide). Locally maintained bibliographic data could then be mashed up with the OCLC data and would not be embedded like a monolithic ILS, allowing it to be maintained over generations regardless of the changes made to the other modules.

Make sure to give OSU's WorldCat Local a try and please make sure to fill out a survey.

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Christina L. Wissinger Assistant Librarian said...

Hi Eric,
I'm the medical librarian at the University of Delaware. We expect to have WorldCat Local up during Spring semester. Any good/bad things you've run across with PubMed being dumped into WCL I'd love to hear about.
Thank you,

Roger Hiles said...

Any inside information to share about the implementation?

Did Innovative help or is OCLC still having to reverse engineer things?

Eric Schnell said...

I will certainly make sure to post our experience as we move ahead. I have not been directly involved in the implementation (it is a 'Main Library' project) so I will need to ask around for some of the questions.