Monday, August 14, 2006

Opening Libraries to the World

If you look to your left you will see a new feature of this blog. I have added some code (beta by the way) that enables anyone to search the WorldCat database (which includes at this writing more than 67 million bibliographic records and 1 billion individual holdings in 9,000 libraries around the world, including the Olin Library.)

One of the issues librarians have struggled with over the past decade is how to make their collections as visible to web users as openly accessible websites. WorldCat on the web is one way to do this. It enables you to search for an author, title, or topic and the use a ZIP code to find out if local libraries have what you want. Of course, you still have to be bona fide user of an owning library to be able to borrow something, but you can even buy a title if you prefer.

One thing that I think we in the Olin Library have to consider doing is finding more ways to take the library's collections, services, and professionals to the user, rather than waiting for the user to come to us. This means proactively getting out of the physical library, but it also means being proactive and taking the library to our users online, on the web, in Blackboard, in Facebook, throughout the Rollins website, and anywhere else our users might be when they want to use the library or have, what we call in the trade, an information need.

All you need is something to search for and a ZIP code. Give it a go and tell me what you think.

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