If you’re small, open data MIGHT be the point
I’ve been reading, with interest, the conversations around the recent Mellon Award bestowed upon Casey Bisson and its possible implications for the landscape of bibliographic data. Tim‘s been talking about it some, which is great. But the most substantive comment comes today from Dan Chudnov:
First off, the LC bibliographic data is not exactly being held captive. Anybody can go buy a copy of this data now right from LC or from third parties today. The cost of this data is not in any way prohibitive for a medium- to large-scale institution that is already used to doing Big Deals in the six and seven figures. As I understand it many largeish library institutions *already* have access to the whole dataset and use it regularly for cataloging. I know this because I have a copy of some of it on one of my workstations, a copy I was allowed to use for research purposes. Granted, this came while I was working at Yale, but I assure you, Yale’s not the only place where this might be true.
There is a HUGE digital divide among the libraries of the world. To the 12-hour-per-week operation in Northern NH, the fact that Yale, UNH, or even Plymouth already have the bibliographic data they need does no good – they don’t have the time to fool around trying to hack out their data from other libraries – there are story hours to plan, reference questions to answer, board meetings to attend… They need a quick and easy way to represent their collections only. If Casey and wpopac have the potentional to bring it to those who’ve been priced out of the bibliographic data market, I wish him all the luck there is.
There’s no reason for rural librarians to work for the technology they need, it should work for them.