Metarecord Holds (and a plug for oISBN)

A post from Ben Ostrowsky came across a couple days ago, and I thought I’d mention that we have something similar to the idea presented there. Basically, Ben wants to give patrons the option of having a hold request filled by any title in a work-set based on OCLC’s xISBN service.

First a little background. Since it’s what Bens post was really about, and although I’ve mentioned it before, I thought I’d go ahead and plug our xISBN-like service, called oISBN, that exposes the metarecords that our MARC fingerprinting algorithm creates. Here’s an example link.

NOTE: The ISBN mapping isn’t precomputed — we actually look up the target record by ISBN, find the peer constituent records for the target’s metarecord and then extract their ISBNs. We’re pretty happy with the speed, considering it’s using our entire catalog — upwards of 1.6M records today — so, like the other supercat services, we’re going to stick with the live data instead of precomputing (and recomputing) an ISBN map.

When you go to place a hold on a title in Evergreen you are presented with the option to select acceptable alternate formats. This actually places a hold on the metarecord that the target title belongs to, limited by the selected formats and the language of the title you originally targeted. We decided against adding language selection in this first version mainly because it seemed to us that if you had chosen a specific language title, then you probably meant to get just that one language.

Also, it’s actually a harder problem than it would first seem — imagine an interface, that must be usable by patrons with no training, that would allow for the Spanish Large Print edition or the English Audiobook. If we’re proven wrong in that assumption it will be trivial to add the logic for multiple language, and we’d love to hear some ideas for such an interface.

We’ve had the backend written for nearly a year, but we hadn’t settled on an interface until recently. The meeting where we finally nailed the interface down was underwhelming for the amount of time we’ve hemmed-and-hawwed over it — but the usefulness is obvious, and I, personally, am just glad we’re exposing it in the OPAC now.

In the screenshot below, notice the (already expanded) “Advanced Hold Options” section below the basic hold form.

Metarecord Holds

One other semi-pertinent point about which I will opine: some out there in the bloggodrome have wondered if OCLC would be willing to add a group id to their work-sets in xISBN. They seem to be considering it, and I would encourage them to do so. As you can see in the above linked example, our metarecords have a unique identifier and we find it makes things (such as using metarecords as the top level search result, and, of course, metarecord holds) much simpler.