A collective responsibility to protect the unparalleled value of WorldCat
OCLC recently took the unprecedented action of filing suit against Clarivate PLC and its subsidiaries Clarivate Analytics, Ex Libris, and ProQuest to halt the misappropriation of OCLC assets to build a cataloging service. Clarivate appears to be positioning MetaDoor as a new competitor to WorldCat. That’s not the full story. Clarivate is a multi‐billion‐dollar conglomerate that’s trying to appropriate investments, innovation, and efforts by a nonprofit library organization and the libraries it serves.
Update: On November 7, 2022, a settlement was reached. Pursuant to this confidential agreement, OCLC has filed a dismissal of the lawsuit. OCLC successfully defended WorldCat to protect the collaborative service developed and maintained with and for libraries worldwide.
Protecting shared infrastructure
WorldCat is a remarkable achievement in global collaboration that we all have a responsibility to protect. For more than 50 years, OCLC metadata experts, libraries, and many others have contributed, enhanced, improved, and shared bibliographic data to connect cultural and scholarly resources in libraries worldwide. WorldCat also represents a significant and ongoing investment by OCLC and the community.
OCLC provides servers and computing power to store billions of records, along with the technology to search those records and display results to users worldwide in milliseconds. There’s also investment in infrastructure—such as security monitoring and disaster recovery—to ensure that WorldCat is accessible now and in the future. But OCLC provides more than IT support. Expert contributors work with data science models and even artificial intelligence tools to increase quality at scale—with tangible benefits to libraries. Just this year, more than 100 million holdings records were enhanced. The result? Better discoverability and faster fulfillment times through interlibrary loan.
MetaDoor relies on WorldCat records to be a viable, usable data set, leading to a weakened WorldCat, less competition, and increased prices. Damage to WorldCat diminishes everything we’ve worked cooperatively to build, including improved cataloging, resource sharing, discovery, collection and library management, and other services that thousands of libraries and their users rely on every day.
Innovation for all libraries
WorldCat isn’t just a place for individual libraries to write and store MARC records. Ongoing collaboration is what makes it powerful. More than 90 percent of the time, a cataloging record is the result of OCLC, publishers, and libraries coming together to add their unique metadata expertise. In fact, OCLC has spent approximately $68 million during the past two years and $162 million during the past five years developing and enhancing the library bibliographic records and associated metadata.
Data experts from around the globe work together every single day to create richer descriptions in records, which improves the discoverability for researchers and other library users. This doesn’t happen anywhere else in the same way. And all libraries benefit from this collaborative work.
“Accurate holdings increase efficiency for management tasks, improve resource sharing results, and enable discovery at the point‐of‐need.”
OCLC Executive Director of Metadata and Digital Services
Sustainability for the future
If MetaDoor is allowed to proceed, WorldCat investments will decline as revenue declines, and the very records MetaDoor depends on will no longer be available in the same way they are today. This will lead to operational issues in many libraries.
It’s our shared responsibility to preserve the viability and value of WorldCat for future generations. Participants commit to respecting the contributions of every library. The rights and responsibilities associated with WorldCat preserve its integrity as a world‐class library resource.
Committed to ongoing investment in metadata
For decades, we’ve been a leader in linked data research and we continue to take important steps forward to make linked data support richer discovery experiences.