In April 2009, OCLC announced its ambitions to deliver a new approach to library automation based on its global WorldCat platform. The vision of Webscale Management Services (WMS) involves adding new categories of functionality to WorldCat which will enable it to support the full range of automation, freeing libraries from the need to operate individual integrated library systems.
OCLC has delivered cataloging capacity from its very inception; resource sharing has been in place for many years, and recent efforts have positioned WorldCat Local as an end-user discovery tool. WMS builds on the massive WorldCat database and provides the existing functionality for automation support for the remaining areas of library operations including circulation, acquisitions, and license management. Circulation presents quite a challenge for this model of automation since it involves critical real-time transactions.
OCLC has enhanced the WorldCat platform for the greater scalability of performance and reliability required for WMS to serve as a viable automation platform for these additional modules. (A more detailed description of what is now known as WMS was presented in the June 2009 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter.)
During this period of development, OCLC has engaged a number of libraries to serve as pilot sites for the service, providing development feedback and testing. Some of the WMS pilot sites announced included the Cooperative Information Network, a consortium of libraries sharing a Voyager system in Idaho, Pepperdine University in California (Voyager), Linfield College (Millennium), and the Orbis Cascade Alliance. Bringing to fruition of more than a year of development and testing, OCLC announced that at as of July 1, 2010 WMS will be available for libraries interested in becoming early adopters of a migration process for production use of the circulation and acquisitions modules. OCLC expects WMS availability as a routine subscription service by July 2011.
In a major early coup for this product, BIBSYS, a nationwide automation system supporting the major research and special libraries in Norway, including the National Library, has selected WMS as its new automation platform. BIBSYS operates under the authority of the Ministry of Education and Research of the Norwegian national government, centered at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The libraries participating in the centralized BIBSYS system cooperate and share the costs of developing and operating the system. Since its inception in 1972, BIBSYS has evolved through a series of computer platforms, beginning with mainframe systems up through the current Unix-based multi-tier architecture. According to the BIBSYS website, the current system manages almost 16 million items and 5.2 million unique titles across the 117 participating libraries.
According to the announcement issued by BIBSYS, a procurement process initiated in September 2009 elicited responses from six vendors; three were eliminated as not meeting the eligibility requirements. Of the three vendors receiving the detailed specifications, only Ex Libris and OCLC submitted proposals. The BIBSYS board selected OCLC's WMS as the preferred solution in their June 18, 2010, and will move forward to the contract negation phase. Though appeals of the selection may yet be submitted, this award asserts the organization's confidence in the potential of the OCLC WMS model. The selection of WMS extends an existing relationship between BIBSYS and OCLC. In 2005 OCLC PICA won the contract to provide Web-based portals to BIBSYS member libraries, based on the SISIS Elektra platform.