Volume 12 Number 2
One wonders if OCLC ever looked at the definition of "reclamation". A Google search for a definition turns up the following options: the conversion of wasteland into land suitable for use of habitation or cultivation; rescuing from error and returning to a rightful course [as in] "the reclamation of delinquent children"; the recovery of useful substances from waste products; or the process of reclaiming something from loss or from a less useful condition. I don't think that our bibliographic databases qualify as “wasteland”, “less useful”, or “delinquent.” The far, far, better term to use would be re-synchronization.
In the past year, the OLIS has been working with the four-year comprehensive colleges (and a few community colleges) to re-synch holdings with OCLC. As of this writing, the initial group is almost finished with reclamation (three sites’ data is back from OCLC; the last two sites are on the cusp of processing).
Why do this? OCLC (in the guise of WorldCat) has become a major player in SUNY cooperative collection development projects, in the IDS project, and in the SUNY Business Intelligence Initiative (SBII) pilot. It has become increasingly important that holdings in OCLC be properly reflected … and that the “correct” OCLC number is used on our ALEPH records.
But, you say, my library has always kept OCLC up-to-date. We update OCLC bib records with our symbol every time we catalog, and we always remove our symbol every time we withdraw a title from our collection. Plus, of course, we’ve always been members of OCLC; we’ve always posted holdings from batchloaded records; we’ve never made any mistakes. Can you see the potential hiccups in every one of those statements? Over time, OCLC holdings and ALEPH holdings will not be synchronized anymore. I’m sure every one of us has had an interlibrary loan request to borrow a title we no longer hold or an interlibrary loan request from a patron for a title we do own – all because our symbol was inappropriately on (or not on) an OCLC record.
Okay, so I get the interlibrary loan idea and the hiccups, but what about the titles we don’t loan? We’ve never reported those to OCLC because we don’t loan them. The OLIS has been working on a search system that uses the WorldCat API as backup/replacement for the union catalog. Not reporting to OCLC would then be the equivalent of not reporting to the union catalog. Also, the SBII pilot is now using the OCLC number as the unique matching number for analysis of collection overlap. Not having an OCLC number on a record is the equivalent of having a unique record (rightly or wrongly).
So having convinced you that a re-synching of the two databases is a good idea, the natural next questions are “what do I need to do” and “when do I need to do it?” The good news for everyone on a shared server (i.e. everyone but Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook) is that the OLIS will do most of the work for you. The site is expected to fill out the reclamation order form, with my help and Lauren Pinsley’s (Nylink). The site is also expected to fill out a questionnaireabout their data, which I use to extract data. After a little backing-and-forthing through Footprints (and also with OCLC), I extract the data and then OCLC works its magic.
The OCLC magic is this: for every record in your ALEPH extract, holdings are re-set in OCLC. Once OCLC has re-set every record, their batch process then removes holdings which are older than the re-set date used. OCLC then returns what they call a cross-reference report: this is a list of all your ALEPH record numbers with the corresponding OCLC number. In addition, there may be records that could not be processed for one reason or another. In this case, OCLC returns your original MARC record. I then take the cross-reference report and update your ALEPH records with any different OCLC number. I also work with the exceptions. I produce more easily understandable reports for your catalogers. It sounds simple, but it isn’t, since OCLC’s concern is really OCLC’s database and not ALEPH.
Once reclamation is finished, the campus is responsible for continuing to keep OCLC up-to-date with additions and deletions of all material – including batchloaded records.
One hopes that after reclamation, our databases will not be a wasteland.