Adding by OCLC number

Is there a way to directly add items to by their OCLC ID? E.g., 194219 would create a Zotero record for I do realize that we can add the item through the browser plug-in, but I thought it could be helpful in certain use cases (e.g., no browser plugins).

Here are the prior mentions for this, from 10 years ago:
  • edited July 3, 2020
    The big hurdle here is that a single version of an item can have multiple OCLC numbers each with somewhat different metadata with different degrees of completeness. An OCLC number can lead you to a single item record but, in my considerable experience, the quality of the metadata can differ substantially. This, alas, is especially true for things published before the existence of ISBN, DOI, ISSN, etc.

    edit: Consider the example you provide above. There are more almost 100 different OCLC records for the 1909/1910 DC Heath publication alone and the 60+ other more recently printed, annotated, or electronic book versions of this document also each have several duplicate records with different metadata completeness and accuracy.

    I include an OCLC number in my records but only because my users insist that I do so. A few librarians from the USA want it for inter-library loan requests for journal articles but others have said they don't use it if there is an ISSN or a Library of Congress catalog number available. (edit: I'm more OCD than is healthy and I'd be unable to sleep with such sloppy randomness in my database as is the case with OCLC. We have examined the journal OCLC numbers in my SafetyLit database and include one of the OCLC records that is most complete and accurate. Some OCLC records are astoundingly bad -- the title might be correct but spelling errors and number transpositions are not uncommon. We get that because each participating library can add records and there may be little quality control over the persons who enter the records to the OCLC system.)

    Unless _very_ recently the decision-makers there have not been interested in attempts to merge items into a single accession number.
  • Two issues that make this at least somewhat unlikely:
    1. OCLC numbers aren't easily distinguishable. DOIs start with 10., ISBNs have a specific length and a checksum digit. OCLC is just a number. Zotero already accepts Pubmed IDs for which the same is true, so it can't easily do both. It could require a prefix in front of the number, but it's not like there's a natural prefix format for OCLC IDs
    2. Zotero can't access the OCLC API, so it's using Open Worldcat for metadata, which has, pretty lousy metadata. For ISBNs we only use that once everything else fails.

    The combination of the two leads me to think it's probably not worth it to add support.
  • These are great explanations. Thank you to both of you.
  • edited July 3, 2020
    (Sorry this is somewhat tangential, but what is the resistance to merging duplicates in OCLC? I'm a very frequent and very multilingual user of OCLC, and there are multiple records for books new and old. Often there are two or three records for books that haven't even been published yet, while especially some older ones have dozens or more. I know it would be a pain for someone to properly merge all of it without accidentally collapsing real distinctions, but individual entries already have multiple sets of metadata for each "edition", which seems to just refer to individual copies at individual libraries, while indeed different editions and reprints are actually often collapsed within those entries too. And when outside the characters of the English alphabet, whether in a different script or with diacritics, there are often different titles with different transliterations. This reminds me of a time I was actually planning to go to a library in Germany to read a rare Russian book, and after that had been on my to-do list for months, I stumbled upon a different entry that didn't have enough overlap to come up in my original search [no ISBN, etc.], just to discover that it had been sitting in a university library 20 minutes away that whole time! I love Worldcat for inter-library loan and finding information about books, but addressing the multiple-entries problem would be wonderful!)

    Given that, I must agree that it isn't an especially reliable source for Zotero so the automated entry may not be so important at this point. It's also not hard to simply go to Worldcat in your browser and add via the webpage that way. (Unless you're dealing with a lot of entries in a database you'd like to automatically import, I guess!)

    I wonder if one future option for Zotero might be to fill-in/populate existing items from limited metadata. So you could have a new book item, for example, with only the OCLC number (via "extra" at this point) and then have it automatically fill in the rest. Same with ISBN, DOI, etc., and this would address the common request from users to "update" metadata for existing items too.

    Regarding the specific question/option of a prefix, I believe I have seen oclcXXXX somewhere (maybe in the technical details of ILL requests?), so that's as much of a "standard" as might exist, and wouldn't be too hard to type (or add automatically to a list) if needed.
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