In a bold move that could reshape the library automation landscape, OCLC has expanded WorldCat Local's existing cataloging and discovery tools with new circulation, delivery, and acquisitions features. This new project, which OCLC calls “the first web-scale, cooperative library management service,” will ultimately bring into WorldCat Local the full complement of functions traditionally performed by a locally installed integrated library system (ILS) and, OCLC says, at a lower cost.
Libraries that subscribe to FirstSearch WorldCat will get, for no additional charge, the WorldCat Local “quick start” service: a locally branded catalog interface and a simple search box that present localized search results for print and electronic content along with the ability to search the entire WorldCat database and other resources via the web. Further automation support would come next year.
OCLC's vision involves shifting increasing portions of activity managed through locally or consortially implemented automation systems to the network level.
Through business acquisitions executed over the last few years, OCLC has placed itself firmly in the library automation industry. It has acquired a number of companies that offer key library automation products, including PICA, Fretwell-Downing Informatics, Sisis Informationssysteme, Openly Informatics, EZproxy, and Amlib.
The development of OCLC's new automation services based on the WorldCat Local platform taps into resources from each of these acquired companies. Andrew Pace, OCLC executive director for networked library services and leader of the project, said that OCLC views these new services as increasing the value of the subscriptions it offers to its members. It eliminates many of the redundancies inherent in the current patterns of library automation and allows libraries to take advantage of web-scale efficiencies.