Leiden, 1 March 2006 - OCLC PICA is currently running pilot initiatives to expand the Open WorldCat programme to include wider coverage in Europe. The pilot is being undertaken in order to enable European libraries to increase the visibility of their holdings as well as their usage, and to strengthen their position as a source for online research. Consequently, holdings of libraries in the Netherlands and United Kingdom will begin appearing in response to ‘Find in a library' links from Open WorldCat search engine partners such as Yahoo! Search, Google and Ask Jeeves.
The basis for the pilot will be the existing European holdings in OCLC WorldCat to which holdings information will be added from union catalogues associated with each of the candidate countries: Netherlands (NCC, Dutch National Catalogue), United Kingdom (LinkUK) both in phase 1, and probably Germany in phase 2. A group of libraries in each candidate country will be invited to evaluate the programme and provide valuable feedback.
During the pilot a number of features will be introduced that will help localise the programme for European users. These include:
Raising the ranking of records in country-specific search engine sites for items held in domestic libraries. Thus, for example, items in British libraries will be ranked more highly in results from sites such as http://uk.search.yahoo.com, http://www.google.co.uk and http://uk.ask.com/.
Translation of the Open WorldCat 'Find in a Library' site and links to it, so that the option "Find in a Library" is immediately understood as a practical and local option.
Inclusion of more specific European geographic data (for example postal codes) for library locations that will allow users to identify the libraries nearest to them.
WorldCat currently contains over 64 million records and more than 1 billion holdings. The LinkUK data was loaded in 2005, whilst the Dutch NCC data is being loaded at present. The German data will not be loaded before phase 2 of the pilot. Search engine partners have started the indexing process of these data, but each uses a different procedure and time schedule. For this reason, depending on whether they have already been indexed, data loaded can more or less randomly show up in search results from each of the OCLC Open WorldCat partner sites.
During 2005 OCLC PICA presented the opportunities and benefits offered by Open WorldCat to a number of library fora, including: the LIBER annual conference, the GBV Verbundtag, LinkUK user meetings, OCLC PICA's Dutch LIIS advisory board and at its Dutch Customers Contact Day. Enthusiastic feedback from these audiences was one of the reasons for commencing the Open WorldCat pilot in Europe.
The first phase of the pilot will run until end of June 2006; extension of that period is under consideration. Following a successful pilot phase, Open WorldCat will be available as a subscription service from OCLC PICA.