From your 1997-98 OCLC Users' Council Delegates:
Bernard Strong Marcia Talley
[log in to unmask] [log in to unmask]
ph: 202-287-9463 ph: 410-293-6905
NOTES OF THE OCLC USERS COUNCIL
REFERENCE SERVICES INTEREST GROUP
MAY 19-20, 1997
Barbara Brown, Leader
Betsy Wilson, Recorder
Monday, May 19
Co-leaders of the Interest Group, Barbara Brown, SOLINET delegate, and John
Sullivan, OCLC staff, convened the meeting, welcomed members, and reviewed
FIRSTSEARCH: LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
John Sullivan led a discussion on defining the next generation of
FirstSearch. FirstSearch 5.0 is expected to be released in 18-24 months.
The new release will integrate services, support one platform instead of
three (or more), expand features, provide more flexibility and
customization, and exploit new architecture while containing costs. John
posed a variety of questions for the interest group to consider:
What would you do different with FirstSearch if you could start over?
What features, options, etc. do the most to enhance end user effectiveness?
What does integration mean to you?
What service options and characteristics do you want control over?
The interest group members provided a variety of responses and
FirstSearch provides many powerful search options which are appreciated by
library staff. However, many patrons have difficulty in using the options.
Help screens are not used, although they are excellent. There are too many
screens to go through. Part of this might be the local implementation; part
may be inherent in the FirstSearch configurations.
Members appreciated the wide range of databases available, but are
frustrated by the inconsistency of holdings and predictability of when
holdings will be available. Many voiced the need for a religion database
and the inadequacy of the Student Edition of Chemical Abstracts.
It was suggested that OCLC use the "telephone company model" for determining
cost arrangements. OCLC would monitor use and then suggest the best pricing
option for the library on a continuing basis.
Cross database searching, automated user help in selecting the appropriate
database, SDI services, and local customization are highly desirable.
Several individuals requested that libraries (and even patrons) be allowed
to label/define/group databases in different ways, determined by local
needs. Another desirable enhancement is an easier link with the ILL system.
Staff don*t want to switch software or the database to make an ILL request.
The simultaneous user model is problematic for some libraries. Users don*t
always exit the database, thus tying up the "port" and causing a bottleneck.
Libraries wish to integrate multiple vendor products for the user. Web Z,
if easily implemented, would integrate databases from multiple vendors.
Libraries need integration among FirstSearch citations, ECO, local
holdings, and non-OCLC provided full-text.
Tuesday, May 20
ELECTRONIC COLLECTIONS ONLINE
John Barnes, OCLC staff, provided an update on the Electronic Collections
Online (ECO). Fifteen publishers representing 500 journals are now part of
ECO. The content areas which will be represented when ECO goes live include
science, medicine, technology, social sciences, agriculture, and geography.
Content areas will expand significantly in the future. ECO represents
partnerships with publishers, service providers, subscription agents, and
Since March 17, eighteen libraries and consortia (representing 100
libraries) have been participating in a preview program. The purpose of the
preview program is to generate awareness, provide an early look, and elicit
feedback for future development. The product launch date is June 15 and
will include 100 journals. Five to six hundred journals will be available
by the end of the year. Complete product information is available at
The Interest Group provided feedback and questions concerning ECO:
What is meant by "complete" issues? OCLC specifies in its agreements with
publishers that covers, letters, articles, and advertisements, if possible,
The overhead for individual libraries to negotiate licenses and access
agreements is a burden. Members encouraged OCLC to work toward commonality
of access and license agreements with publishers.
One member encouraged OCLC to provide affordable pricing to get ECO going.
The current pricing schedule is prohibitive to small libraries. The market
potential is enormous, but libraries will need to be brought along.
OCLC should look to professional associations, university presses, popular
and trade publications, titles retrieved most often in FirstSearch searches,
and titles with large numbers of library subscriptions for content. One
individual noted that those "10-12 titles cited over and over again in MLA
that can*t be reshelved" are the type of titles needed. Another recommended
developing a core of humanities and social science titles and a "college
Integration between the A&I databases and ECO titles with a link at the
article level is a high priority for on-demand printing. ECO could support
electronic reserves and distance learners and should be developed with these
needs in mind.
John Sullivan provided a FirstSearch update. The Union List of Periodicals
will be made available this summer and will be part of the base package.
ASCII full text for five H.W. Wilson indexes (Readers Guide, Social
Sciences Index, Business Index, General Science Index, and Humanities Index)
will be available as a single file in July and as separate subsets later.
In June, Medline 1966 to present will be available as part of the base
package. OCLC is negotiating to expand the number of titles in Chemical
Abstracts Student Edition. Publisher
information will be added to Books in Print in August. An agreement has
been signed with Chadwyck-Healey to provide Periodical Contents Index. The
full file will be available on a subscription basis only. The 1961 to
present subset will be available per search and by subscription. An
agreement has been signed with Yankee Book Peddler for their monographic
table of contents data. OCLC is working to build a table of contents
service from multiple sources and is talking with public library,
scientific, and childrens literature jobbers. OCLC is discussing
databases with Ethnic News Watch, SIRS, and Facts on File. OCLC is in
negotiation with ATLA to provide their religion index on a subscription
basis. A FirstSearch statistics Web server will be available in the near
FUTURE AGENDA ITEM
The group expressed interest in interface design and user overload, and how
OCLC is using research in these areas in its development of products as a
future agenda topic.