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Task Group on OCLC Batch Processing

May 3rd, 2001
Document A3


The SCA Task Group on OCLC Batch Processing was charged with conducting a survey of PCC and OCLC Users Council libraries to evaluate their current and near-term interest in enhancements to OCLC batch processing. The group issued three surveys in early spring 2001-one each to BIBCO liaisons, CONSER liaisons, and OCLC Users Council delegates. Response rates were satisfactory-BIBCO liaisons returned 27 completed surveys, CONSER 11 surveys, and OCLC Users Council delegates 41 surveys

A second research project, intended to complement and inform the findings from the surveys, is under way at OCLC. Cornell University Library has provided OCLC with a month's sample of BIBCO contributions. OCLC is evaluating the Cornell records to predict how many and what types of existing OCLC bibliographic records would be replaced by BIBCO records, should batch overlay of member records with incoming BIBCO records be enabled. The results of that research are expected in the coming weeks.

This report shares preliminary findings of the BIBCO, CONSER, and Users Council surveys conducted by the group. The Task Group's full report will be available for discussion at the PCC meetings at ALA in San Francisco.

Survey Findings

BIBCO and Comparative Results

A majority of the reporting BIBCO libraries contribute their new BIBCO records and upgrades online in OCLC (new records, 56%; upgrades 70%). There is little use of CatME among the group as a whole.

Comments suggest that the BIBCO libraries that are working online in OCLC are satisfied with this contribution method. When asked why they have not chosen to batchload their records, they point to limitations of their local systems, better editing in OCLC than in their local cataloging module, a relatively small volume of BIBCO contributions, limitations of current OCLC batchloading functionality, or other reasons.

About 20% of the reporting BIBCO libraries batchload some or all of their BIBCO contributions. These libraries are generally dissatisfied with OCLC batchloading as it currently functions. Problems noted by respondents include having to separate BIBCO and non-BIBCO records into separate FTP files, loss of BIBCO upgrades (because OCLC merely adds the library's holding symbol rather than upgrading the existing OCLC record), problems with consortia or "group" loads, and slow turnaround time for batchloaded files.

As far as enhancements go, the results in Table 1 suggest there is consistent interest among both BIBCO and CONSER libraries in being able to send a "mixed file" via FTP to OCLC-something that OCLC cannot handle at this time. A mixed file contains both PCC program and non-program records, and both new records and upgrades. OCLC would split out the mixed file upon receipt, so that the various kinds of records can be processed appropriately. 69% and 64% of BIBCO and CONSER respondents are somewhat, quite, or intensely interested in this enhancement.

Table 1. Interest in being able to send a mixed ftp file.

  Number Percent Number Percent
No interest at all 2 7.7% 4 36.4%
Not too interested 6 23.1% 0 0.0%
Somewhat interested 7 26.9% 2 18.2%
Quite interested 6 23.1% 3 27.3%
Intensely interested 5 19.2% 2 18.2%
  26 100.0% 11 100.0%

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BIBCO, CONSER and Users Council respondents seem to agree that allowing batchloaded PCC records to replace data in non-PCC records is a desirable change. Among BIBCO respondents, over 85% were somewhat, quite, or intensely interested in improved batchloading of BIBCO new records and upgrades. Among CONSER respondents, 64% were interested in being able to do maintenance via batchload, and 73% were interested in being able to upgrade non-CONSER records to CONSER status via batchload. Among Users Council respondents, 78% were somewhat in favor or in favor of changes to OCLC batchloading that would facilitate the contribution of PCC records to WorldCat.

BIBCO liaisons and Users Council delegates were asked to react to several options for how PCC records should replace non-PCC records in WorldCat. The results in Table 2 suggest that an acceptable option would be for any BIBCO core record to replace any less-than-full non-BIBCO record, and for BIBCO full records to replace non-BIBCO records.

Table 2. How Replaces Should Occur.

  BIBCO Users Council
  Number Percent Number Percent
Any BIBCO core replace less-than-full; BIBCO full replace all non-BIBCO



Any BIBCO core or full replace all non-BIBCO 5 18.5% 1 2.5%
Merge BIBCO and non-BIBCO 5 18.5% 13 32.0%
Other 6 22.2% 5 12.5%
Don't change current policy N/A N/A 1 2.5%
  27 100.0% 41 100.0%

The concept of merging data from PCC and non-PCC records was less appealing to BIBCO and Users Council respondents, and there was little consensus in their comments about how merging should be done (except for a general desire to retain fields that represent a different classification or subject scheme than is present in the BIBCO record).

There was a good deal of consensus among BIBCO respondents about acceptable turnaround times for batchloading. Because of the small number of respondents, it is more difficult to interpret the CONSER findings; however Table 3 suggests that 24 hours is the most desirable turnaround time among BIBCO liaisons and possibly among CONSER representatives.

Table 3. Desired Turnaround Time for Batchloading

  Number Percent Number Percent
24 hours 18 66.7% 6 54.5%
36 hours 0 0.0% 0 0.0%
48 hours 5 18.5% 0 0.0%
72 hours 0 0.0% 1 9.1%
Other or no answer 4 14.8% 4 36.4%
  27 100.0% 11 100.0%

Survey respondents were asked a series of questions about the potential impact of OCLC batchloading enhancements on their preferences and behavior. Based on the survey results, BIBCO participants are reluctant (47%) or undecided (42%) about switching to batchloading as a contribution method, even if batchloading were improved. There are however a small number of BIBCO contributors for whom batchloading improvements would represent a real step forward for their BIBCO work-New York University, Cornell, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, and Stanford.

While improving batchloading is not likely to increase the number BIBCO participants, it will almost certainly increase the number of BIBCO records available for use in OCLC. Respondents gave two reasons for this: (1) BIBCO upgrades would be added to the OCLC database, rather than being discarded in the batchloading process, as they are today; and (2) a large number of items not now chosen for BIBCO treatment because of the presence of vendor or other minimal-level records in OCLC would become candidates for BIBCO cataloging.

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CONSER Results

Results of the CONSER survey were mixed; not much consensus was evident on most questions. With responses from 11 institutions, it's somewhat difficult to draw significant conclusions.

Among CONSER respondents, interest in batchloading maintenance and upgrades seems stronger than in batchloading new records. While 54% said they are somewhat to very interested in batchloading new CONSER records, 64% said they are somewhat to very interested in doing CONSER maintenance via batchload, and 73% said they are somewhat to very interested in upgrading non-CONSER records via batchload. Again, however, the apparently large percentage shifts really represent a slight shift in degree of interest from 2-3 libraries; another example of the danger of reading much into these results.

When asked if batchloading improvements would affect their choices or behavior, CONSER library responses are highly diverse. Some 36% of respondents said they would probably or definitely begin to use batchloading as a contribution method if batchloading were improved; however 27% said they would probably or definitely not change their current online practices, and another 27% were not sure how they would react. Similarly, opinions were widely split about whether improvements in OCLC batchloading would increase the number of CONSER records these libraries contribute to the OCLC database.

Nevertheless, the results suggest that although not too many CONSER libraries are interested in batchloading, those that are interested include some potentially large contributors: Cornell, Indiana, Michigan, and Harvard.

OCLC Users Council Results

In past meetings, OCLC Users Council delegates have expressed concern about the overlay of member-contributed records in WorldCat with PCC records. The Users Council survey sought to determine Users Council delegates' concerns and opinions about batchloading of PCC records and to gather recommendations for OCLC.

Some 66% of the Users Council respondents say they are somewhat or very familiar with the PCC's mission and goals, or they are actively participating in one or more PCC programs. Another 22% have at least heard of the PCC, but 12% claim no familiarly with the Program at all. When asked about their familiarity with the PCC full and core records, 49% said they are not familiar at all or have heard of them; another 51% said they are somewhat or very familiar, or they contribute BIBCO or CONSER records to WorldCat.

As with the BIBCO and CONSER respondent groups, few Users Council respondents are currently using batchload as a contribution method (12%).

As mentioned earlier in this report, 78% of the respondents are "somewhat in favor" or "in favor" of OCLC's changing batchloading to facilitate PCC contributions. It would seem, then, that changes being sought by PCC libraries would be favorably received by a majority of Users Council delegates. As reported in Table 2, Users Council respondents seemed to favor the option of any BIBCO core record's replacing any less-than-full record and any BIBCO full record's replacing any non-BIBCO record in WorldCat.

Like the CONSER and BIBCO groups, few Users Council respondents indicated their libraries' choices or behavior would change as a result of improvements in batchloading. Only 3 respondents stated that they would probably become CONSER participants and only 2 respondents stated that they would probably become BIBCO participants if OCLC implements enhancements to make it easier to contribute PCC records via batchload.

SCA Task Group on OCLC Batch Processing
Edward Weissman, Chair (Cornell), Glenn Patton (OCLC), Robert Wolven (Columbia), Karen Calhoun, SCA liaison (Cornell)

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