OCLC has announced a new Web-scale, full service library management system.
From the OCLC press release:
OCLC is connecting the content, technology and expert capabilities of its member libraries worldwide to create the first Web-scale, cooperative library management service…This new library service design will support library management for print, electronic and licensed materials built on a new, Web-scale architecture that provides streamlined workflows and cooperative solutions.
As reported by Marshall Breeding in Library Journal, “This new project, which OCLC calls “the first Web-scale, cooperative library management service,” will ultimately bring into WorldCat Local the full complement of functions traditionally performed by a locally installed integrated library system (ILS).”
More from Andrew Pace, Executive Director for Networked Library Services at OCLC.
I’m all for web-scale solutions, interoperability, and cooperative platforms, and I’m happy that this service will be “free” to those of us with a subscription to OCLC First Search. But, I wonder if anyone besides the folks at LibraryThing are worrying about the monopoly issue? The folks at LibraryThing write that:
The move casts new light on its [OCLC's] Policy defenses. OCLC isn’t “curating” library records; it’s leveraging them to enter a new market. It wasn’t “protecting members’ investment,” it was investing members’ money, intended to support OCLC’s core mission, to build a new service. WorldCat isn’t a “switching mechanism” to local catalogs. It will replace them.
I can’t help but think if this kind of service were being offered by a different commercial entity (say one whose name starts with “G”), the library world would be up in arms. I’m not saying we should be up in arms, I just think we would be. Tell me what I’m missing here, ‘cuz the folks at LibraryThing have a compelling argument …
Update: Looks like others are asking Tough Questions on OCLC’s Competitive Advantage and Data Policies.