The experiment ends this coming July. We have reached the middle of this experiment (more or less). There has been an increase in the number of changes to records in OCLC. These changes range from adding call numbers to correcting spelling mistakes. With the knowledge that Glenn Patton releases every month as to the statistics related to this experiment, a number of questions can be asked:
-Is this experiment still important?
-Is this experiment an attempt to “wiki” ize OCLC’s Connexion?
-Should this experiment be made into a permanent feature?
Yes, this experiment is still very important. The cataloging community is a rich resource of talented and knowledgeable professionals. However, as we all know, not all catalogers possess the same knowledge or have the same skill sets. Some are better with languages. Some are more familiar with particular types of formats over others. This diversity is our strength as a community. This experiment shows that we can pool together those skills to offer better quality records to other libraries and hence users.
Is this experiment an attempt to “wiki-ize” Connexion? There is no tagging or comment boxes available in Connexion. Records can be changed (hopefully for the better). But this is really not much different from what has taken place before now. We relied on other catalogers who entered original records and/or members who could change master records to enter “good” data that needed little updating. Errors were corrected by using a form that was submitted or by alerting the community through the use of one of the listservs like AUTOCAT. That process is now much easier and quicker thanks to this experiment. However, the tempered voice of the community is still being heard on various listservs.
I don’t think this experiment has turned Connexion into a wiki. It has “wiki-ized” Connection because it has given the opportunity to enhance records to a larger set within the community than before. In this regard, all members with full cataloging privileges and not just a select few can be instrumental in bettering records. Not only does the community have opinions and suggestions posted on listservs but more of us can participate and take action for the better. Of course, errors will continue to plague us as well as difference of opinions. Yet, I see this experiment as empowering the community to make better bibliographic records overall.
I believe that this experiment should be a permanent feature of Connexion. Why should someone have to report a spelling error instead of being able to just correct that error then and there. I understand that we have to be careful when manipulating master records. Adding local information or changing the record to reflect our library’s collection is not a good tactic to implement.
Since the experiement is not over yet, there is time to see just how it affects Connexion. Are records really being improved? Are there little battles being played out in terms of records being changed, changed back, changed again, and then changed back to what it was originally?
It will be interesting to see the end results of this experiment. It will also be helpful to have more information as to the nature of those changes, what those changes were, and if certain fields were changed more than once.