I got an e-mail today from the RedLightGreen team at RLG. RedLightGreen provided inspiration and set the bar in many respects long before anyone had uttered the words “next generation catalog.” The much-lauded interface to the research union catalog is fading away in the wake of the OCLC RLG merger. Fortunately, this is not as much a deprecation as it is a passing of the baton to WorldCat.org, which launched in beta status last month. WorldCat includes both the faceted navigation and “Editions” feature (tying like titles together into a single record display) made popular by RedLightGreen.
The second mouse gets the cheese. OCLC might have been 2nd to RLG with this technical advancement, but with its wealth of content that now includes RLG’s holdings, WorldCat is destined to be (it already was and is) a database of tremendous impact. And if the world’s books were not enough, WorldCat now includes many electronic serials holdings as well.Serials Solutions, EBSCO, and TDNet have partnered with their customers and OCLC to participate in the eSerials project, launched in July 2006. Through the project, libraries can contribute their electronic holdings to WorldCat. Serials Solutions joins EBSCO and TDNet as a contributor to the database.
It’s hard to imagine at first what the contribution of locally licensed collections is to the open world catalog, but in combination with other initiatives such as Resource Sharing and Collection Analysis from OCLC, it makes more sense. Having “all the stuff” in one place does have some payoffs. It also gives libraries (more) incentive to pursue less complex (that’s a euphemism for less restrictive) licensing agreements with content providers. Otherwise all those shared holdings become just a tease without the mechanisms to share them with other libraries. The groundwork has certainly been laid.
[This post originally appeared as part of American Libraries’ Hectic Pace Blog and is archived here.]