Thursday, April 27, 2017

#OCLC, #VIAF and #WorldCat - I love them and, they could be even better for me

Jimmy Wales is doing his thing for proper news and it is welcome news. When it pans out it will work but people have to read what WikiTribune will bring. As always it takes education and access to information. Libraries have always been the bedrock of available information to people and the OCLC is what connect the worlds libraries. So it is important for it to be as good as it can be when it is to bring more people to libraries and read.

The OCLC brings two programs that are important to me as a person and as a Wikimedian. They are VIAF and WorldCat. VIAF is the "Virtual International Authority File"; it is a system that brings together the information the world's libraries have in their system and aims to connect them. VIAF is largely maintained by software but there are processes to fix issues that do occur. Wikidata is connected to VIAF because it is the link to information about authors that exists in Wikipedia and Wikisource in many languages. There are bots that do find VIAF identifiers thanks to identifiers known at Wikidata and once a month Wikidata identifiers are updated in the VIAF registry. Using VIAF on its own, you will find for instance a Uilyam ┼×ekspir.

WorldCat is where it becomes interesting to readers. For me its information is available in Dutch. Echoing a blogpost on the OCLC blog we can bring more joy to the library's website and for people who come to the library world from a Wikipedia there are opportunities. I have a profile at WorldCat; it knows my library because I entered it as one of my favourites. WorldCat assumes that it knows my location and suggest a library that is not near to me and that is not useful. So picking up on the cookie information it does not need to know my location and allow for an easy link to my library. This will help me. What WorldCat could do is ask people if the suggested library is indeed their library.

The blogpost mentioned earlier talks about web analytics. I would absolutely love to know how many Wikipedia readers get to VIAF or WorldCat. It would be wonderful to know if we get readers connected to their libraries. When we do, the effect of improvements will show and that will motivate Wikimedians even more to get people their facts, and have us share in the sum of all knowledge.
Thanks,
      GerardM
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