Tom Keays wrote:
a) the person may not have (or know they have) an affiliation to a given
Then how is WorldCat going to help, if they have no idea which institutions listed they might be able to get the book from!

b) may be coming from outside their institution's IP range so that even the
OCLC Registry redirect trick will fail to get them to a (let alone the
"correct") link resolver,
I think LibX-type plugins are the only practical solution, and while requiring a browser plugin is unfortunate (and only works in certain browsers), I can't think of a better one. You're right this is a problem. But with LibX, it can be as simple as "please install this plugin", and if the LibX-style plugin is sophisticated enough, everything will Just Work, they'll get a button everywhere they want it to connect them to their local institution.

c) there may not be any recourse to find an item if the institution does not
own it (MPOW does not provide a link to WorldCat).
Well, then that's something to take up with YPOW, if you think a WorldCat link is a valuable service to the user, but YPOW disagrees. That's not a technical problem, that's a policy problem. Ideally, I'd like to get Umlaut doing better than just a link to worldcat, I'd like to get it showing Worldcat holdings directly on the screen, including things like "closest public library", with those libraries being hyperlinked directly to the library's web page or even individual catalog record (theoretically sort of possible with WorldCat services). (Along with a link to worldcat for more info).

Now, you're right that this scheme still has some problems. But to me, the problem with the WorldCat page is it's just not a sufficient interface. It suffers from some of the same problems you mention -- they won't get an ILL link unless they are on-campus and your institution has configured it properly. It doesn't give easy access to local library services like placing an ILS "request" for circulation desk hold or physical delivery (if it gives this access at all, it's only by a chain of several non-obvious clicks). Etc.

You're right that if a user doesn't have an institution with a link resolver, then WorldCat might be the best they can do. It would be nice if WorldCat interface were somewhat better for this, but it's a tricky problem. Most public libraries don't have link resolvers -- I think they ought to (and it should be Umlaut!), but most public libraries haven't allocated limited resources to digital services like this. Even most academic libraries don't have very _good_ link resolver interfaces (again, Umlaut!).

It is an imperfect world we live in, indeed.


On Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 12:16 PM, Walker, David <>wrote:

It seems like the more productive path if the goal of a user is
simply to locate a copy, where ever it is held.
But I don't think users have *locating a copy* as their goal.  Rather, I
think their goal is to *get their hands on the book*.

If I discover a book via COINs, and you drop me off at, that
allows me to see which libraries own the book.  But, unless I happen to be
affiliated with those institutions, that's kinda useless information.  I
have no real way of actually getting the book itself.

If, instead, you drop me off at your institution's link resolver menu, and
provide me an ILL option in the event you don't have the book, the library
can get the book for me, which is really my *goal*.

That seems like the more productive path, IMO.


David Walker
Library Web Services Manager
California State University
From: Code for Libraries [] On Behalf Of Tom Keays
Sent: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 8:43 AM
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] WorldCat as an OpenURL endpoint ?

On Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 3:47 PM, Jonathan Rochkind <>

The trick here is that traditional library metadata practices make it
hard_ to tell if a _specific volume/issue_ is held by a given library.
those are the most common use cases for OpenURL.

Yep. That's true even for individual library's with link resolvers. OCLC is
not going to be able to solve that particular issue until the local
libraries do.

If you just want to get to the title level (for a journal or a book), you
can easily write your own thing that takes an OpenURL, and either just
redirects straight to on isbn/lccn/oclcnum, or actually
a WorldCat API lookup to ensure the record exists first and/or looks up
author/title/etc too.

I was mainly thinking of sources that use COinS. If you have a rarely held
book, for instance, then OpenURLs resolved against random institutional
endpoints are going to mostly be unproductive. However, a "union" catalog
such as OCLC already has the information about libraries in the system that
own it. It seems like the more productive path if the goal of a user is
simply to locate a copy, where ever it is held.

Umlaut already includes the 'naive' "just link to based on
isbn, oclcnum, or lccn" approach, functionality that was written before
worldcat api exists. That is, Umlaut takes an incoming OpenURL, and
the user with a link to a worldcat record based on isbn, oclcnum, or
Many institutions have chosen to do this. MPOW, however, represents a
counter-example and do not link out to OCLC.


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