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German Libraries and OCLC: Rupert Schaab

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In 2005 OCLC purchased the commercial developer and vendor of an ILS "SISIS", mainly used by the academic libraries of three other states.  Most of these academic libraries still have the perception that OCLC is a vendor and that OCLC staff from Oberhaching and Leiden simply manage minor technological changes in the CBS and SISIS systems. So there are no obvious advantages for the cooperation with or within OCLC. (For resource sharing other models and solutions are running in Germany.)

Many German academic libraries are representing their titles and holdings in WorldCat, hoping for more visibility in the Web, but the Karlsruhe Virtual Catalogue (KVK) in Germany is far more propagated and used. So many German libraries are a member of the OCLC cooperative by contributing their records to WorldCat via their networks, but that doesn't matter. In the focus of the German academic libraries are their networks and the cooperation between these networks, but still not OCLC. Most libraries directors are still convinced, that they would need a national platform and not a global service in the cloud.

In 2011 OCLC bought BOND, the biggest provider of the German public libraries with ILS "Bibliotheca". But the public libraries do not contribute traditionally to a network and so do not become members of the OCLC cooperative and don't contribute to WorldCat. OCLC for them is still only a vendor. Most German librarians don’t know that the OCLC GmbH in Oberhaching is owned only by the membership organization, OCLC. 

The poor visibility of the OCLC cooperative in Germany is not reflective of the prominent role OCLC plays in putting libraries at a global scale. The emerging semantic web needs open linked data services like the Virtual Authority File (VIAF), the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) and the Faceted Application of Subject Terminology (FAST) of the Library of Congress Subject Headings. WorldCat will also play the role of a central hub for open linked data. OCLC has to play a prominent role developing and sustaining global reference centres and preserving them free and neutrally for applications from any end user, library’s, network, search engine, library supplier, ILS vendor and so on. For these pro bono services the OCLC cooperative needs a sound and sustainable economic basis and also the engagement of the members.

To get more involvement of German libraries in the cooperative, we in Germany have to look more beyond our horizons and we need also changes in the regulations for membership (e.g. opt in).

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