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Copying cataloging records


   I have been following this conversation with interest.  Resource 
sharing and collaborative efforts among various types of libraries are 
"hottopics" in libraryland, and certainly resource sharing is what 
brought OCLC into existence in the first place, so this discussion is of 

   Many, perhaps the majority, of cataloging records are produced with 
public money, and therefore should be freely available for use by other 
libraries.  We forget the many (majority) of public libraries in the U.S. 
are too small and too poor to have access to OCLC.  Many rural libraries 
may not even have a professional cataloger on staff.  West Virginia is 
probably typical of the state of things.  Of the 178 public libraries in 
the state, only one, the largest, is a member of OCLC.  The rest get the 
bib records from the West Virginia Union Catalog, to which the academic 
libraries libraries contribute.  We supply original cataloging, and the 
West Virginia Library Commission purchases our records from OCLC for 
inclusion.  In effect, we are buying back what we produced in the first 

   Commercial database suppliers have a right to receive payment for 
software development, added value information such as abstracts, and 
customer support.  But for librarians (and OCLC for that matter) to 
natter on about copyrighting bib records is antithetical to the very 
philosophy we purport to espouse.

   Instead of worrying about how to copyright our work, we should be 
talking about how to make it more accessible.  Sharing freely, we can 
help make true the visions of resource sharing and universal library 

Donna Lewis
Director, Library Services
University of Charleston (W.Va.)
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