"The Message is the Medium"
One of the major objectives established for the OCLC Internet Cataloging
Project was the identification, selection, and cataloging of
Internet-accessible resources through a coordinated, cooperative nationwide effort
between OCLC, college and university libraries, and other repositories of electronic
information. Libraries participating in this project were encouraged
to identify significant collections of electronic materials as candidates for cataloging
and to contribute cataloging records for items "held" locally. While OCLC
project staff assisted with the identification of 'objects for
cataloging', they explicitly did not participate in the selection process,
an activity viewed as a 'natural library function already practiced'.
Although the InterCat database does include significant monographic and serial works,
files, databases and search services, discrete resources and entire web sites
have not been differentiated. While many of the resources are of 'local'
significance, many, represented by the title profiled below (Fig. S-1), are well-known,
easily-retrieved by most existing Internet search engines or already extensively incorporated within established Internet
guides, collections or services.
More importantly, limited effort appears to have been made to identify and characterize
individual significant resources within cataloged or uncataloged Web sites. In general, the value-added service that libraries have provided for generations by careful
selection and description has not been fully applied to the identification and selection of Net resources
in this phase of the project.
000 cmm Ia 001 32671041 003 OCoLC 005 19000000003138.0 008 950619m19939999enkn d eng d 040 UOK $c UOK 050 4 QA76.15 $b .H6 1994 082 04 004/.03 $2 20 100 1 Howe, Dennis. 245 14 The free on-line dictionary of computing $h [computer file] / $c Dennis Howe. 246 3 FOLDOC 256 Computer data. 260 [England? : $b s.n.,] $c c1993- 538 System requirements: PC with modem. 538 Mode of access: Internet World Wide Web. Address: http://wombat.doc.ic.ac.uk/. 500 Title from title screen. 500 "This dictionary started in 1985 and now contains 8611 definitions totalling 3.0 megabytes"--Modified ... May 18 ... 1995. 500 Includes searchable online index. 520 "FOLDOC is a searchable dictionary of acronyms, jargon, programming languages, tools, architecture, operating systems, networking, theory, conventions, standards, mathematics, telecomms, electronics, institutions, companies, projects, products, history, in fact anything to do with computing ... entries are cross-referenced to each other and to related resources elsewhere on the net ..." 650 0 Computers $x Dictionaries. 650 0 Microcomputers $x Dictionaries. 856 7 $2 http$u http://wombat.doc.ic.ac.uk/
The application of the established OCLC model of cooperative cataloging to the identification and selection of Internet resources in the first phase of this project was appropriate and indeed predictable. In subsequent phases, project leaders and participants should take a more focused strategy exemplified by CyberStacks(sm) and by the NISS Information Gateway, which have adopted a subject approach to the selection of resources and which intentionally seek to include more elusive Internet resources, as well as more common sources, within their respective collections. OCLC and project participants may consider the establishment of consortia analogous to HealthWeb, dividing Internet selection and cataloging responsibilities based on overall local collection strengths for non-Internet resources. As an intermediate stage, libraries might focus on selecting Net resources that augment their individual specific local print collections.
While NetFirst(tm) also includes significant monographic and serial works, files, databases and search services, it too does not differentiate between discrete resources and entire web sites in its selection process. While value has been added by an assessment of included resources and by a concise description of selected items, as with the InterCat database, users are still required to search within sites to identify and locate useful resources. NetFirst(tm) does not differentiate between individual resources and more comprehensive or complex collections. While descriptions are provided, they are typically superficial, and in many cases, no better than the profiles provided by any of the Internet search engines. While lacking in these areas, NetFirst(tm) is to be commended for the use of an online form to solicit user recomendations and suggestions for candidate Web sites for inclusion within its service.
Unlike NetFirst(tm) and the InterCat database, CyberStacks(sm) intentionally seeks to identify and describe primarily discrete resources, be they unique or part of a larger collection, in addition to well-organized Web sites. Its selection of resources reflects a collection development philosophy well-articulated by Demas, McDonald and Lawrence in a recent article:"... [T]itle by title selection of high quality resources is one of the most important values librarians can add in providing access to information resources, including those accessible via the Internet. A careful selection of resources is the touchstone of the electronic library"(Demas, McDonald and Lawrence, 1995:280).
Demas, Samuel G., Peter McDonald, and Gregory Lawrence, "The Internet and Collection Development: Mainstreaming Selection of Internet Resources," Library Resources and Technical Services 39, no. 3 (July 1995): 275-290.
While the CyberStacks(sm) model may be applied to any and all subjects, publication types and media, its initial phase has intentionally focused only on those Internet resources of a scholarly or research nature, in specific and related fields of Science and Technology within defined subject classes in the Library of Congress classification system, that have conventional Reference value.
The NISS Information Gateway, an outstanding example of a cooperative Internet cataloging project in Great Britain, can well serve as a model for potential enhancements to the OCLC Internet Cataloging Project. In the next phase of its implementation, OCLC may consider the use made by NISS of Subject Area Leaders and Subject group participants, a collection development and cataloging approach also planned by CyberStacks(sm) through its various Virtual Advisory Boards.
Serious consideration should also be given to the use of a WWW-based Resource Description Template for input of cataloging and classification data for selected resources as used by NISS and CyberStacks(sm). It is an excellent model for expediting the identification and incorporation of significant resources within a collection. Such Web-based forms are an ideal and appropriate Web tool for cataloging Web objects.
The InterCat database should seek to make wider use of a nomination form, as used generally within NetFirst(tm), to facilitate the development of a database that better meets the needs and expectations of current and potential users. It should also consider a participatory database development effort similiar to that employed within CyberStacks(sm). Through a Suggestion Form, CyberStacks(sm) users are not only provided with an opportunity to suggest the inclusion of a specific Web resource, but also have an opportunity to nominate candidate publications for future Net access that currently are not available in an Internet format.