|Weekly News Digest
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OCLC Redesigns WorldCat.org, Prompting Minor Backlash
On Aug. 24, OCLC announced the introduction of “a new WorldCat.org, reimagining the single website that connects people to thousands of libraries in one search. The project is part of OCLC's commitment to increase access to libraries and their collections, and to help expand their impact. OCLC's ongoing investment in WorldCat.org ensures libraries and their extensive collections are easily accessible to anyone searching for information.” The press release continues, “The new WorldCat.org offers all formats of library resources and highlights the materials that are closest to searchers, increasing user satisfaction and introducing new people to the depth and breadth of library resources. Additionally, it extends the reach and influence of libraries, connecting to people who may never otherwise visit in person or online.”
The updated site has a more-accessible, mobile-friendly design; offers tools to promote local library collections so they can reach more people; makes list creation and sharing easier in order to provide more opportunities for engagement; and has improved discovery and fulfillment options with access to local library e-resources.
For more information, read the press release. An OCLC Next blog post by Cathy King, OCLC’s executive director of delivery services, discusses the updates in detail.
Chad Haefele, head of UX at University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill University Libraries, posted a Twitter thread in response to the redesign. It laments the addition of a Featured Libraries tab that prioritizes WorldCat member libraries and hides others behind an All Libraries tab. Read the thread for additional comments and OCLC’s reply. OCLC also offered a full explanation on its own Twitter page that may quell some concerns: twitter.com/SearchWorldCat/status/1563203921744498691.
NewsBreaks author and Online Searcher editor-in-chief Marydee Ojala shares the following:
A handful of ALA members posted their reactions on ALA Connect with the subject line “WorldCat’s Recent ‘Redesign.’” They were not happy, except for one who praised OCLC for offering a free and public WorldCat. Several librarians, who double-check existing catalog records when confronted with cataloging issues of their own, now find the process unduly cumbersome.
A librarian from the Miami-Dade County Public Library noted that, after logging in and transferring her lists and favorites, only a few of her favorite libraries were listed and her own library no longer appeared in search results. She also noted that library patrons often use Goodreads to find books they want to read, then follow the link to WorldCat to see if a local library owns them. They assume that if their local library is not listed, it’s because the library doesn’t have what they want.
“Horrifying” is how another librarian described search results, specifically the difference between “Featured Library” versus “All Libraries.” The latter has no links; it’s simply a list of libraries, which means that searchers must leave WorldCat for a Google search. Several librarians were very distressed that apparently libraries must “pay a premium” to be listed as a “Featured Library.” WorldCat historically only included libraries that had both a cataloging and a FirstSearch/WorldCat Discovery subscription. With the redesign, “All Libraries” includes those with a cataloging subscription only. OCLC is also offering new subscription options to increase library visibility.
A personal observation: The geolocation function had some bugs in the initial rollout of the redesigned WorldCat. I am located in Indianapolis, but WorldCat thought I was in Chicago. It was very simple, however, to correct that.
OCLC has a website for librarians to respond to the redesign if anyone else wants to weigh in: oclc.org/oclc-forms/en/volunteer/new_worldcat_org_feedback.html.
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