Should we be in the Cloud? Musings on OCLC’s WMS

Recently I heard through the grapevine that several regional academic libraries are either seriously considering, or are already migrating to OCLC’s WorldShare Management Services (WMS).

Though my library is still tied to our traditional Millennium ILS, I’m intrigued by the speed and eagerness with which our neighbors are flocking toward this web-based, cooperative library services product.  Many are motivated by financial pressures.  With WMS, libraries can streamline and simplify workflows, give up local server maintenance, and eliminate duplication of local holdings and authority control.

But lots of questions still remain.  Does migration to WMS actually result in significant cost savings?  And is there any loss in quality of service?  I think it is still way too soon to tell, but the early evidence seems promising.  According to an article in last month’s Computers in Libraries, the cost savings are tangible, and time saved is significant. The article details Pepperdine’s recent migration to WMS, and overall, they had a positive experience and are happy with the new system. Granted, they had already implemented WorldCat local, so the impact to patrons was minimal.

Here are some of the changes Pepperdine noted that cause me to salivate slightly:

  • No more logging into separate modules
  • No more pesky, unreliable clients — instead, access online from anywhere
  • No more duplication of local holdings — maintain in OCLC only
  • No more duplication of authority records — maintain in OCLC only

I can understand why our region’s academic libraries are taking a good look at WMS, and you can be sure that we will be following this trend with great interest.  In fact, I’m willing to go out on a limb and predict that in under five years, the majority of academic libraries will have emerged from their silos in favor of a web-based, cooperative system such as WMS.


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