To garner some sustenance and survive, SkyRiver will need to differentiate itself from OCLC and provide a better option for at least some libraries. SkyRiver is emphasizing three differentiators:
- Higher Quality: Although SkyRiver is starting with a much smaller database of bibliographic records than OCLC currently claims–20 million compared to 144 million–the creators promise that it will offer higher quality both at the record and the aggregated database level. Although I’ve never worked closely and extensively with the OCLC Union Catalog (Is it still called that, or am I dating myself?), it has had some quality issues in the past. Even when I was in library school in the mid-80’s, using ye olde tyme 3,2,2,1 search statements, the issue of the need for quality control was evident.
- Lower Costs: SkyRiver promises to provide more bib for the buck when compared to OCLC. Marshall Breeding’s article about SkyRiver in Library Journal mentions that some libraries may be able to save up to 40 percent for their bibliographic services. Exact pricing for SkyRiver records and services has not yet been released.
- Record Ownership and Use: Controversies and questions persist. Who owns the records contributed to a database of bibliographic records? What are the permissible uses of those records? The dillemas have plagued OCLC and its member libraries for decades. SkyRiver plans to cut through the Gordian knot by not claiming any ownership or rights regarding the records.