Oberhaching, 15 April 2011 – OCLC has today announced that its project to develop a Web-based, national public library catalogue has now been made available to a selection of pilot institutions. Over the next two months a small group of libraries will have the opportunity to review the catalogue, and feedback on things such as data quality and overall user experience.
Developed in conjunction with The Combined Regions (TCR) and based on holdings indexed in WorldCat, the world's largest database of bibliographic information, the customised union catalogue provides a view of the 9 million holdings contributed by the 149 local authorities that currently subscribe to UnityUK, the UK's only nationwide network for resource sharing.
As part of this initial roll-out, pilot institutions will help refine the catalogue by providing input in areas including user experience and completeness of holdings data. Currently around 80 percent of British public libraries participate in UnityUK. By subscribing these libraries contribute details of items they wish to make available for inter-lending. Therefore, one of the main objectives of the pilot is to establish what additional data will be needed in order to improve holdings coverage and provide a credible national catalogue experience for the public.
"Offering a complete view of the UK's public libraries, online, in a user friendly way is our ultimate goal. Our pilot participants will be integral to the success of the project, and entering this phase is a significant step toward accomplishing our objectives," says Elisabeth Robinson, Product Manager at OCLC.
"We are relying on our users' experiences and feedback to ensure the group catalogue meets their needs, before we move to the next step. The initial announcement, made back in January of our intention to develop the catalogue has been really well received and we want to make sure that the catalogue is going to meet community expectations. More importantly, in the short term, we want to ensure that we maximise the return on investment already made by our existing UnityUK customers," concludes Robinson.
Rob Froud Chair, The Combined Regions, continues: "I think it's great to have reached this stage so soon. It's important that we ensure that the national catalogue meets all our user requirements, and these pilots are important in that respect. The Combined Regions is working very closely with OCLC to ensure that this exciting development helps provide a much needed boost to the public library offer."
This announcement coincides with a number of UnityUK user group meetings happening across the country in April and May, where attendees will learn more about the national catalogue and what it means to them. For details of these meetings and to register please go to https://www3.oclc.org/app/emea/unityuk/