Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Toward a UK supra-library catalogue

Plans are announced for a web-based UK national public library catalog(ue) containing bibliographic data from 80 percent of the UK's public libraries. Web users will be able to search nine million bibliographic records and 50 million books held by 149 local authorities.

I was a bit puzzled by this as I thought the combined catalog(ue) was something toward which WorldCat was aiming. I turned to librarian-genealogist Marian Press who explained that WorldCat is costly. It's run by a for-profit company and charge the contributing libraries substantially for every item they enter. Also the UK system is aiming to be a means of nationwide inter-library loan, something not offered by WorldCat.

Family historians looking for rare and locality specific books will welcome this initiative. I've found myself searching out local UK libraries and trawling through their online catalog(ue)s, and having to come to grips with different protocols, looking for a book. This new initiative should simplify matters, just as in Ottawa, the more primitive and much smaller scale the Sm@rtLibrary has helped those looking in various cooperating libraries in the region. 

Read the full press release at http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/it-at-work/2011/01/26/uk-eyes-national-library-e-catalogue-40091558/

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