Vendor Interview -- OCLC

This week's interview is with OCLC, the organization behind WorldCat, Connexion and several other library-related products and services. The responses have been provided by Glenn Patton, Director, WorldCat Quality Management Division, OCLC.

Question 1: Is your cataloging system current with MARC 21 updates 9, 10, and 11, which made changes to MARC to accommodate RDA? If not, do you plan to update, and do you have a timeline for updating? Have you made the changes for both bibliographic and authority records?

GP: OCLC has implemented all of the RDA-related changes from MARC 21 Updates 9, 10, and 11. Some additional changes from Update 11 and the changes included in Update 12 will be implemented in August 2011. These changes cover both bibliographic and authority records.

OCLC has also implemented links from the Connexion browser and client to the RDA Toolkit so that OCLC member libraries that subscribe to the Toolkit are able to link from a displayed bibliographic or authority record to the relevant RDA instructions.

Question 2: Are your system's displays (public facing and admin) capable of displaying the new RDA fields added to MARC? Are any future changes planned? If so, can you share a timeline?

GP: All of the new RDA fields for both bibliographic and authority records are displayed in OCLC cataloging interfaces (Connexion browser and client) and are included in search results through Z39.50 Cataloging. They are not displayed in public display but several have been incorporated into indexing, filtering and faceting functionality (see question 3).

Question 3: Please describe your system's search interface (including its indexing, filtering, and faceting functions), and how it handles the new RDA fields. Are any future changes planned? If so, can you share a timeline?

GP: For a number of years, OCLC has used a system of “document types” and “material types” to provide users with more granular search limiters, to support the display of icons in search results and to assist in faceting. The terminology which is specified for Content Type, Media Type and Carrier Types (MARC 21 fields 336, 337, and 338) and their MARC 21 coded equivalents have been incorporated into that system and are currently in use.

Question 4: Does your system support cataloging in encodings other than MARC? If so, have you made any changes to these encodings in order to support RDA? Are any future changes planned? If so, can you share a timeline?

GP: OCLC supports the creation and editing of records in Dublin Core in the Connexion browser and allows the export of those records in HTML and RDF. The Connexion client supports export of Dublin Core of XML. CONTENTdm supports the use of Dublin Core and VRA Core. The crosswalks that support these other records structures were updated as part of the MARC update projects described in Question 1.

Question 5: Libraries are likely to be in a mixed records environment for some time. Do you have any plans to discontinue support to AACR2 records in the foreseeable future?

GP: OCLC has no plans to discontinue support for AACR2 records.

Question 6: Do you have any display, search, or other concerns about using your system in a mixed record environment where AACR2 and RDA records are co-mingled in the catalog?

GP: One of OCLC’s goals in participating in the U.S. National Libraries RDA Test was to test the interoperability of RDA records in OCLC’s various interfaces. The test did not reveal any significant problems.

Question 7: RDA has an increased focus on record-to-record relationships based on FRBR and adopted the Work-Expression-Manifestation-Item structure. Does your system currently take advantage of this new data and structure to improve the user experience in any way? Are any future user experience improvements based on this data planned? If so, can you share a timeline?

GP: OCLC has done pioneering work in exploring the use of FRBR to improve the user’s discovery experience. The FRBR algorithms, developed by OCLC Research, have been incorporated into WorldCat and are used to enhance search results in WorldCat.org and WorldCat Local. The additional data and more explicit relationships in RDA will provide those algorithms with more to work with.

Question 8: Some have said that the benefits of RDA cannot be fully realized while MARC remains the dominant encoding standard. If RDA is adopted, how viable do you think MARC will be going forward? What sort of issues would a move away from MARC raise for your product(s)?

GP: MARC 21 and its predecessors have served the library community well for nearly 50 years but taking full advantage of what RDA offers requires more flexible and robust data structures. OCLC welcomes the Library of Congress’s recent announcement of the Bibliographic Framework Transformation Initiative and looks forward to working with LC colleagues on this initiative.