WorldCat Selection

To give you an idea of how exciting my job often is, I’ll tell you about the professional highlight of my week. Today I trained on the new WorldCat Selection service, and I’m all set up to use it.

Many of you might already know about WorldCat Selection. It’s an online collection development tool that brings records from multiple vendors into a single interface and allows selection and ordering all in one place. This may not sound like a big deal, but it’s sure going to save me a lot of time and make it easier for me to spend more money. That last part might be tough on my budget, though.

I’ve been waiting for this for about two years, ever since I’d heard we were talking to Cornell about using their Integrated Tool for Selection and Ordering (ITSO) system. Cornell teamed up with OCLC, and we’re all the beneficiaries.

I like it, especially because I hate the traditional model. Mountains of paper slips come in. I select a bunch of them. Handwrite my initials and a fund code. Send the smaller mountain of slips to acquisitions, where they they pile up on the desk of some poor acquisition staff person who probably feels completely overwhelmed having to manually enter all the info. It’s no wonder traditional acquisitions could be so slow and inefficient. I’ve been fighting against this model since I started working here, trying to do as much electronically as I could.

I buy English, German, French, and Italian books in philosophy and religion, and we have approval profiles set up with Blackwells for Anglo-American, Harrassowitz for German, Touzot for French, and Casalini for Italian. Blackwells’ Collection Manager is a decent ordering system, and since I’ve been struggling for years to get rid of the mountain of paper slips that pile up in my mailbox I started using it as soon as I could. Harrassowitz started delivering slips by email, which is better than paper, but you still have to copy and paste to order. I abandoned French slips and I’ve been periodically searching the Touzot database by certain parameters to generate my own electronic slips and avoid paper. There was nothing I could do about Casalini. My system’s hardly been ideal, but my choice was between that and a couple thousand paper slips coming to me each month. I’ve never understood the selectors who’d rather have the mountain of paper.

But no longer. Harrassowitz, Touzot, and Casalini are already in WorldCat Selection, and I’ve been told to expect Blackwells within a month or so. I can go in, see all the records from all three (soon four) vendors, select the ones I want to order and delete the rest, all with a few clicks. Right now there aren’t many vendors involved, but I assume the number will grow.

The interface is a little clunky, but our test group says OCLC has been very responsive to suggestions for improvements and it’s getting better quickly. For example, you can’t manage your approval profiles, as you can with Collection Manager. It would be great if OCLC could work with the vendors to include that in the interface. Also, the sorting right now is based on the Dewey numbers from the vendor records, which isn’t as useful for me as LC would be. You can set up a lot of exclusions (e.g., of keywords or languages), but it would be nice to be able to add keywords to the profile. For example, I would like to see everything with “philosophy” in the subject heading. It would also be nice to get separate email notices when new records have been loaded, which is something I like about Collection Manager. It’s a good reminder for me. There are other suggestions for improvement I could probably offer. Still, I think it’s going to be a useful tool, and I expect it to improve. It’s one small step towards Collection Development 2.0. (I can’t believe I just wrote that.)

My Harrassowitz, Touzot, and Casalini slips for this week have been loaded. The only problem is that I now have 400 records to look through.