OCLC Policy Change Update

For those of you who have been following the OCLC policy change situation (if not, I recommend the OCLC Policy Change page on the Code4Lib wiki to get yourself acquainted), the Review Board of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship chair presented to the Members Council on May 18th. In the preliminary report, the review board recommends OCLC to  withdraw the proposed policy and start from square one, this time allowing for participation from the OCLC membership masses and more transparency.

While many in the blogosphere celebrated the announcement, the important thing to keep in mind is that this is a recommendation, and a preliminary one at that. The final report could have the board recommending that OCLC should do something completely different. In addition, the board’s recommendations are just that – recommendations. OCLC is not bound to the board. Then again, if OCLC blatantly disregards the recommendations, then the semi-quiet grumblings questioning OCLC’s “membership driven” structure will become near to a deafening roar. That is dependent if OCLC still wants to be a “membership driven” organization, of course. With their entry into the ILS market, OCLC takes yet another step towards commercial vendorship. It is true that OCLC did have the Ohio legislature give it a special non-profit status; however, it may come to a point in time where OCLC decides to shed the special status and take its place with the other for-profit vendors. Where would that leave the member-created database, if OCLC goes formally for-profit?

Stay tuned…