Thursday, May 14, 2009

Death Blow to OCLC's Proposed Policy?

Big story #2 this week: the International Consortium of Library Consortia (ICOLC) has issued a statement strongly opposing the changed records use policy proposed by OCLC late last year. Tim has a very perceptive commentary and reaction post to this, so I won't duplicate here what he's already said, since I entirely agree with him. I will, however, quote from his concluding paragraph:

" ... libraries should embrace 'radical openness,' a commitment to sharing what they know freely, something that looks less radical in light of the library's historic dedication to the free exchange of information. Selling other people's library records isn't a real threat, but, if it were, the answer would be more openness, not less. When you sell tickets, you get scalpers. But nobody makes money selling passes to Central Park. (A few people make money walking dogs around it. Most just enjoy the free grass and sunshine.) And in a world that's looking less and less friendly to the long-term success of libraries, an unwavering commitment to sharing and openness may well be libraries' saving grace."

I think this is a discussion that librarians should engage with and participate in (and some are, in the comments to Tim's post, and elsewhere). As we move forward, open access and shared data are going to be even more important as they already are, and coming down on the wrong side of this issue may be a very serious mistake. (To be fair, I think most libraries do recognize this, and are doing the best they can with what they have to work with).