The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has had a website for identifying and distributing its own and other agency publications since the beginning of the century. Until recently, the site was named SourceOECD, but over the last 4 or 5 years, according to Toby Green, head of publishing, the OECD has been working with Publishing Technology (formed in 2007 with the merger of Ingenta, VISTA, and Publishers Communication Group (PCG)) to redesign its site and many internal functions as well. The result is OECD iLibrary. In the course of investigating this development, probably my most interesting discovery had nothing to do with the newness of the site, but with the discovery of the many countries the data covered outside the 33 developed country members of OECD itself.
Why so many countries? (Check out the “Country” list on the home page.) Green says that it surprised him too, but OECD is “like a federation of international organizations and programmes where countries get together in umbrella deals. For example, in the education field there are around 80 countries; 90 countries in adult education. All in all, we have information for more than 100 countries. Our homepage has two new features where you can access by theme  and by country. Choose the country and you will get a list of all the content for quick access.”
The redesigned site has been available to subscribers for almost a year, according to Green, but it was released quietly so OECD could get feedback and improve the system. Apparently the agency places particular emphasis on input from librarians. In fact, according to Green, the name change idea came from librarians who pointed out that they first looked for OECD information under “O”, not “S.” The original name was chosen because whenever agency staff saw their data cited it carried the tag “Source: OECD,” Green told me.
The new website has some interesting features, but—again—some features already available on the previous site drew my attention. In fact, I think they might well draw the attention of any good information vendor. Anyone can search anywhere on the site for free. “Finding” data is open to all; “fetching” data located on the site may involve some payments, either subscription or per-item. Green stated that most pages link directly to the OECD online book shop, where you can buy online or print versions. In fact, Green said, “If you buy a print item, you get instant access to the online version. We let people buy and download ebooks immediately, but they can save 30% if they buy just the ebook. If you buy the print book, you can get the ebook in all the languages in which we publish. We also have special prices for non-profits and arrangements with consortia.” Green also pointed out the large number of free items available. Clicking on the item will retrieve it immediately if it’s free or send you to the store.
Excuse the editorializing, but how long must we wait until all vendors guarantee that some route—money or no money, subscriber or single item end user—will enable any and all users to span the gap between find and fetch? No problem at OECD iLibrary!
So, what can you find in the redesigned site? It includes statistical data, books complete or in chapters, journals and articles, and working papers, including new tables. Content coverage is comprehensive back to 1998 for OECD itself, but also includes the International Energy Agency (IEA), Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) and International Transport Forum (ITF). In total the collection now includes some 390 complete databases, 2,500 working papers, 5,500 books, 14,000 tables and graphs, and 21,000 chapters and articles. The OECD alone adds around 250 new titles each year.
New features on the site include:
• Intuitive navigation by country or theme.
• Granular content—users can search and click directly to tables, chapters, or articles.
• Integrated search results, showing all available file formats (PDF, HTML, XLS).
• A citation tool for all content, compatible with popular bibliographic management systems, including EndNote, Ref Manager, ProCite, BibTeX, and RefWorks. (Just click on the “Cite as” feature on the right side of the screen, when available.)
• Content in context—related content is one click away.
• Links to previous editions, with the option to download any full-text item such as tables or chapters from the table of contents.
• Every content level has a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) and fixed URL.
• Users can navigate back and forth via hierarchical “breadcrumb trails.”
• Executive summaries available for key titles in up to 20 languages.
• OECD.Stat is fully integrated, offering multiple export formats (including SDMX) explanatory metadata and links to related publications.
• 44,000 home pages with Google friendly URLs.
• Data available as ready-made, downloadable tables, or, for experienced users, in databases for users to build and extract their own tables.
Green was particularly proud of the ready-made tables, which currently cover country profiles and economics. For a complete list of these tables, go to the central panel for the statistics page. He also cited the Citation Tool for tables and datasets, which he considered unique to OECD iLibrary.
To test out the site and its features, Green suggested trying a leading free publication:
This is an example of one of our free ebooks, OECD Factbook. You’ll see that this page also shows how annual publications are presented in iLibrary—note the dates on the left-hand side, each is a link to a previous edition. If someone goes to an older edition, they can see that newer editions are available just by looking at this list of years. This particular ‘serial’ page is set up so that a librarian can enter it into their OPAC as a serial and need do nothing more because anyone following the link will always land on the latest available edition. You'll notice that this page has an ISSN (and DOI) but each edition has an ISBN (and DOI). The ‘cite this’ publication and buy print edition links are on the right-hand side of the page. Note also that the table of contents lists all the associated Excel spreadsheets containing the data used in the tables and charts that appear in the chapters.
[BTW—This particular title is also available as a free App from the iTunes App store—just in case you have an iPhone.]
Overall, Green said OECD has around 1,800 subscribers worldwide, but as many as 19,000 to one journal. He also pointed out that, “the prices for OECD iLibrary are the same as the prices for SourceOECD.” Improvements still have to be made, according to Green. For example, they are adding MARC records and COUNTER usage statistic features. He also indicated they planned to add a new chart format for tables, which should be out in 3Q 2011.