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OCLC Expert Community Experiment

March 3rd, 2009

In response to calls for more freedom for catalogers to edit records in OCLC, the Expert Community Experiment has begun.

The Experiment is scheduled to last six (6) months, at the end of which time, the results of the Experiment will be evaluated by OCLC and a decision made whether to make it a permanent policy or to return to the original policies on updates, or something in-between.

The idea of the Experiment is to allow all Full-level and higher OCLC member catalogers greater freedom to make changes to records that haven’t been possible in the past. Changes that have required a report and copies of title pages to be sent to OCLC can now be made, as-needed, by catalogers.

There are some limits, Full-level catalogers can’t make changes to PCC records (records done by libraries which are members of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging) and to records that are encoding level E. While catalogers can make changes to CIP (ELvl 8 ) records, they can’t change the encoding level – to I or anything else.

One of the most important things to remember in all this is, as OCLC puts it “First, do no harm” – which may be a bit much, as we’re not talking about medical decisions, but…

  • NEVER remove correct and accurate information from a master record (such as classification numbers or subject headings) simply because your institution does not find it useful.
  • NEVER change the basic nature of a master bibliographic record into something different.
  • AVOID including local data or local practices in master bibliographic records.
  • Be cautious about changing bibliographic records with a different Language of Cataloging (identified in field 040 subfield ‡b). Bibliographic Formats and Standards, Section 3.10, “Parallel Records for Language of Cataloging” http://www.oclc.org/bibformats/en/specialcataloging/default.shtm#BCGBAEHC) has details on working with these records.

“If in doubt, DON’T.”

For more information on the Experiment, you can visit the official site: Expert Community Experiment

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