Sun, 11 May 2003 16:35:02 GMT

Oh the Things We Could Do with WorldCat!.

Wow – Peter Janes caught a heck of a post by Tim Bray about OCLC's WorldCat database!

About as Big as the Web

“In recent months, I've been having serious fun on the job working with OCLC WorldCat data. WorldCat is big – about as big as the Web, and in some respects richer. It is also amazingly under-utilized (what was the last time you did a large-scale search on anything but Google?), and we'd like to fix that. Herewith some notes on who OCLC is, what WorldCat is, and some of the fun we're having. (Warning: long, and with some pitching for Antarctica; but some juicy screenies, and infojunkies must read.)…

Basic stats are available online, and they're impressive (this from the April 2003 snapshot): 798 million books, 40,974,753 unique book titles, 2,475,845 serials, 692,264 maps, and so on, totaling over 883 million copies of 49 million different pieces of our species memory.

This is remarkable, especially when you consider that it was all built by hand. I am in awe of WorldCat; I think it is one of the enduring monuments, one of the reasons why we can (occasionally) be proud to be human….

Long past time, in fact, to take the worlds' OPACs, and especially WorldCat, and build a general-purpose research tool for everybody; with this and Google we would really be covering the bases.

The community of librarians has devoted tens of thousands of lives, in aggregate, to the stewardship of this remarkable body of knowledge, and it is just wrong that it isn't an everyday part of the Web.”

Read the whole thing, even if you're already a librarian and know what WorldCat is. I've been saying for quite some time that WorldCat could become as dominant as Google if OCLC would just open it up. I'm excited that a guy like Tim is working on ideas leading down this path, and I can't wait to see what he has up his sleeve!

[The Shifted Librarian]

Feeding the information fetish can be problematic…. I've played with worldcat before and been lost for hours….