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The NYC Radical Reference Collective will discuss OCLC at a salon style meeting on Friday, January 23 at 8pm, presumably at ABC No Rio.


  1. Please add items you think people should read ahead of time.
  2. Please keep them alphabetical.
  3. Feel free, encouraged even, to provide some annotation.
  4. Please volunteer to summarize one item for the group at the salon by putting your name after it in parentheses, like this: (Farfel)

Beall writes with fervor about the problems he sees with OCLC. First, he argues that OCLC represents a monopoly that steals and consolidates the labor of catalog librarians and then sells it back to them at an exorbitant rate. Because they have no competitors--or buy them up, as they did with netLibrary--libraries have little recourse. Second, OCLC has notoriously dirty data and provides no incentive for librarians to clean that data up. Third, despite their reliance on computer science and business majors, OCLC fails to implement software well. Connexion, the cataloging client, goes down with regularity and OCLC is nonresponsive. Beall touches throughout on labor problems with OCLC including their failure to hire degreed librarians, a parochial reliance on Ohio State graduates, and the poor working conditions of temporary catalogers.

Guiding Questions

We expect the conversation to take on a shape guided by who shows up and what they're interested in. Here are some guiding questions we might keep in mind as we read and respond--feel free to add your own.

  1. Is a true cataloging cooperative possible under capitalism?
  2. Considering the reach of OCLC's power and products--could we do interlibrary loan without them?--what are strategies libraries and librarians can use to resist them?
  3. More TK