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Randy Walker Entrepreneur, VB MVP

In the library world, OCLC controls the flow of information.  A non-profit organization, it is the center hub for libraries all over the world to share information and loan books to each other.  Think of it as a tollway for books.  When a Marc / metadata record is created (contains information like author, subject, copyright date, etc) libraries will upload that information to OCLC.  This Marc record will then be available to thousands of other libraries, who can use that record in their library system to help create their catalog of books.

You would think, great, fantastic … a non profit company for libraries to share information.  Information storage and retrieval is cheap and easy, yet they charge hefty prices for this.  In a typical corporate company the goal is to make money, but this is a non profit aimed at solely helping the libraries.

The bigger issue I have as a technologist, is the preventative nature of innovation.  Libraries are extremely lacking in technology.  It’s only been within the last 5 or so years that they’ve had windows applications for their catalogs.  There are only a couple of big players within library systems, each of them holding back technology for the masses.  These companies have a stranglehold on the libraries.  There needs to be a complete revision of the Marc record system, standardizing them so that new technology available in other industries can make use of it.  SOA – Service Oriented Architecture is a prime example, as well as having a review system for Marc records, and especially having a centralized database available to be consumed via web services.  There are so many technological growth areas for libraries, but the libraries are stuck because a few companies are using monopolistic tactics to make money.

It will be a big win for libraries and the general public if SkyRiver can successfully help change the library world with their lawsuit.  G’luck guys.

Posted on Thursday, July 29, 2010 4:33 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Antitrust Lawsuit versus megagiant OCLC

# re: Antitrust Lawsuit versus megagiant OCLC
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I can't really say I know much about library software, but it is my observation that most libraries have very out of date hardware. I doubt many could afford the hardware to run modern software. Also, library budgets are one of the first places to be cut when money is tight (like during a recession) so even if there was another option, cost would likely prevent adoption.
Left by Ryan on Jul 30, 2010 12:07 PM

# re: Antitrust Lawsuit versus megagiant OCLC
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Actually a major factor in their budgets is because the software is so expensive. They literally pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for their cataloging software. I can't remember exactly, but I want to say it costs them around $4-$5 per book for interlibrary loans. Universities can typically afford these software prices but the local libraries can't.
Left by Randy Walker on Jul 30, 2010 12:12 PM

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