We talk a lot about de-coupling of software, so you are not stuck with a monolithic stack of software, but can mix and match components that meet your needs.
The same thing applies to vendor services. Apparently OCLC will not really let you share your holdings for ILL with them unless you also buy your cataloging copy from them. (How much of your cataloging copy? Few OCLC members get 100% of their copy cataloging from OCLC, despite the policy fiction to the contrary).
Okay, officially they’ll “let” you, but they’ll charge you a prohibitive enough fee to make it infeasible.
Cathy De Rosa, VP for the Americas and Global VP of Marketing for OCLC, sought to clarify the situation in a conversation with LJ….De Rosa framed MSU’s request as essentially a request for the cooperative to perform “data stewardship” duties for MSU’s records, in addition to the services provided by the resource-sharing subscription, but said “that’s not the way the cost-share model works today.”
It’s not entirely clear to me how sharing your holdings for ILL (OCLC’s original Raison d’être, right?) necessarily involves “data stewardship”, but I don’t know the details of how OCLC’s systems work.
OCLC may very well be constrained here by technical limitations of their system (their own lack of ‘decoupling’ in their in-house software), not simply by a business decision. Perhaps there is no efficient way for OCLC to load your holdings if you aren’t doing copy cataloging, it ends up costing them just the same either way.
If so, that’s unfortunate, for everyone involved. It seems to me that it’s in the interest of OCLC members, OCLC as an organization, and libraries that may be considering OCLC services — to let you share your holdings for ILL even if you aren’t buying cataloging copy from OCLC. It means that OCLC’s holdings registry for ILL sharing (and for WorldCat API’s) remains competetive, remains the best around. Driving people away from sharing holdings only hurts OCLC, does it not?
Unless they think they can trap people into buying (some large percentage) of their cataloging from OCLC by this “coupling”. But that ship has already left the harbor, I bet almost all OCLC members are buying non-trivial supplementary cataloging records from other vendors, and more and more will consider cheaper alternatives for larger portions of their cataloging. If OCLC can’t compete in quality-per-dollar, they aren’t going to be able to succeed in ‘trapping’ libraries into buying cataloging anyway. If they try, they’re just going to send their OTHER services, that libraries DO want to keep paying for, down the road to ruin too.
“We share the resources, and we share the costs,” she concluded, noting that the cooperative also invests significantly in activities such as: “data stewardship, infrastructure and standards support, FRBR, controlled vocabulary services, WorldCat Identities, crosswalks between metadata formats, record enhancement, automated record delivery from vendor partners, MARC format updates, name authorities management, audience-level data work, mapping and visual data discovery, and a growing number of WorldCat APIs for linking to Web services, to name a few of the shared services.”
That’s right, and those WorldCat API’s are really great and in my opinion significantly increase the value of an OCLC full membership. But OCLC’s going to have to compete on service and cost, they’re not (I predict, I hope) going to succeed by ‘trapping’ their customers into paying for services whether they like them or not, using a ‘lock-in’ model very reminiscent of the same methods we don’t like when our ILS vendors do it.
De-coupling, as with software, so with vendor services, so with cooperatives.
I think OCLC ought to not only allow holdings-sharing without record-buying, but ought to be aggressively getting OCLC numbers on other vendors records, to make it as efficient as possible for libraries to share their holdings with OCLC regardless of where they get their cataloging. (And it needs to be said again for repetition, that there are probably few OCLC members left who do no copycataloging from anywhere but OCLC). That will keep OCLC’s holdings database the best there is, and keep their services built on that holdings database (ILL, worldcat, worldcat API’s) without any competetive peer — even if their cataloging service doesn’t remain so, as it already has not.