OCLC, currently incorporated as
OCLC Online Computer Library Center,
Incorporated, is an American nonprofit cooperative organization
"dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world's
information and reducing information costs". It was founded in 1967
as the Ohio College Library Center.
OCLC and its member libraries
cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the largest online public
access catalog (OPAC) in the world.
OCLC is funded mainly by the fees
that libraries have to pay for its services (around $200 million
annually as of 2016[update]).
OCLC also maintains the Dewey Decimal
6 Online database: WorldCat
7 Identifiers and linked data
8 Company acquisitions
10 See also
12 Further reading
13 External links
OCLC began in 1967, as the Ohio College Library Center, through a
collaboration of Ohio university presidents, vice presidents, and
library directors who wanted to create a cooperative, computerized
network for Ohio libraries. The group first met on July 5, 1967 on the
campus of the Ohio State University to sign the articles of
incorporation for the nonprofit organization. The group hired
Frederick G. Kilgour, a former
Yale University medical school
librarian, to design the shared cataloging system. Kilgour wished
to merge the latest information storage and retrieval system of the
time, the computer, with the oldest, the library. The plan was to
merge the catalogs of Ohio libraries electronically through a computer
network and database to streamline operations, control costs, and
increase efficiency in library management. The goal of this network
and database was to bring libraries together to cooperatively keep
track of the world's information to best serve researchers and
scholars. The first library to do online cataloging through
Alden Library at
Ohio University on August 26, 1971. This was the
first occurrence of online cataloging by any library worldwide.
OCLC is based on use of services and contribution of
data. Between 1967 and 1977,
OCLC membership was limited to
institutions in Ohio, but in 1978, a new governance structure was
established that allowed institutions from other states to join. In
2002, the governance structure was again modified to accommodate
participation from outside the United States.
OCLC expanded services in the United States outside Ohio, it relied
on establishing strategic partnerships with "networks," organizations
that provided training, support and marketing services. By 2008, there
were 15 independent United States regional service providers. OCLC
networks played a key role in
OCLC governance, with networks electing
delegates to serve on
OCLC Members Council. During 2008, OCLC
commissioned two studies to look at distribution channels; at the same
OCLC Members Council approved governance changes that had
been recommended by the Board of Trustees which severed the tie
between the networks and governance. In early 2009,
new contracts with the former networks and opened a centralized
OCLC provides bibliographic, abstract and full-text information to
OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain
OCLC Online Union Catalog, the largest online public
access catalog (OPAC) in the world.
WorldCat has holding records from
public and private libraries worldwide. The Open
launched in late 2003, exposed a subset of
WorldCat records to Web
users via popular Internet search, bibliographic, and bookselling
WorldCat later morphed into WorldCat.org. In October
OCLC technical staff began a wiki project, WikiD, allowing
readers to add commentary and structured-field information associated
WorldCat record. WikiD was later phased out.
The Online Computer Library Center acquired the trademark and
copyrights associated with the
Dewey Decimal Classification
Dewey Decimal Classification System
when it bought Forest Press in 1988. A browser for books with
their Dewey Decimal Classifications was available until July 2013; it
was replaced by the Classify Service.
Until August 2009, when it was sold to Backstage Library Works, OCLC
owned a preservation microfilm and digitization operation called the
OCLC Preservation Service Center, with its principal office in
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S.
The reference management service QuestionPoint provides libraries
with tools to communicate with users. This around-the-clock reference
service is provided by a cooperative of participating global
OCLC has produced catalog cards for members since 1971 with its shared
online catalog; the company printed its last catalog cards on October
OCLC commercially sells software, e.g., CONTENTdm for managing digital
OCLC has been conducting research for the library community for more
than 30 years. In accordance with its mission,
OCLC makes its research
outcomes known through various publications. These publications,
including journal articles, reports, newsletters, and presentations,
are available through the organization's website.
OCLC Publications – Research articles from various journals
including Code4Lib Journal,
OCLC Research, Reference & User
Services Quarterly, College & Research Libraries News, Art
Libraries Journal, and
National Education Association
National Education Association Newsletter. The
most recent publications are displayed first, and all archived
resources, starting in 1970, are also available.
Membership Reports – A number of significant reports on topics
ranging from virtual reference in libraries to perceptions about
Newsletters – Current and archived newsletters for the library and
Presentations – Presentations from both guest speakers and OCLC
research from conferences, webcasts, and other events. The
presentations are organized into five categories: Conference
presentations, Dewey presentations, Distinguished Seminar Series,
Guest presentations, and Research staff presentations.
Advocacy has been a part of OCLC's mission since its founding in 1967.
OCLC staff members meet and work regularly with library leaders,
information professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs, political
leaders, trustees, students and patrons to advocate "advancing
research, scholarship, education, community development, information
access, and global cooperation."
WebJunction is a division of
OCLC funded by a grant from the Bill
and Melinda Gates Foundation, which provides training services to
OCLC's advocacy campaign "Geek the Library," started in 2009,
highlights the role of public libraries. The campaign, funded by a
grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, uses a strategy
based on the findings of the 2008
OCLC report, "From Awareness to
Funding: A study of library support in America."
Other past advocacy campaigns have focused on sharing the knowledge
gained from library and information research. Such projects have
included communities such as the Society of American Archivists, the
Open Archives Initiative, the Institute for Museum and Library
Services, the International Organization for Standardization, the
National Information Standards Organization, the World Wide Web
Consortium, the Internet Engineering Task Force, and Internet2. One of
the most successful contributions to this effort was the Dublin Core
Metadata Initiative, "an open forum of libraries, archives, museums,
technology organizations, and software companies who work together to
develop interoperable online metadata standards that support a broad
range of purposes and business models."
OCLC partnered with search engine providers in 2003 to advocate for
libraries and share information across the broadest possible Internet
landscape. Google, Yahoo!, and
Ask.com have all collaborated with OCLC
to make the
WorldCat records searchable through those search
Online database: WorldCat
Main article: WorldCat
WorldCat database is used by librarians for cataloging and
research. Contributions to
WorldCat are made via the Connexion
computer program, which was introduced in 2001; its predecessor, OCLC
Passport, was phased out in May 2005.
WorldCat contains records in MAchine Readable Cataloging (MARC) format
contributed by library catalogers worldwide who use
OCLC as a
cataloging tool, and these MARC format records can also be downloaded
into other libraries' local catalog systems. This allows libraries to
find and download records for materials they are adding to their local
catalog, without having to undergo the lengthy process of creating a
new catalog entry from scratch for each new item.
As of March 2015, the
OCLC database contained over 336 million records
with 2.2 billion cataloged items, and is the world's largest
bibliographic database covering 72,000 libraries. Connexion is
available to professional librarians as a computer program or on the
web at connexion.oclc.org.
WorldCat is available to the public for searching via a subscription
web-based service called FirstSearch, as well as through the
publicly available WorldCat.org.
Identifiers and linked data
OCLC assigns a unique control number (referred to as an "OCN" for
OCLC Control Number") to each new bibliographic record in the
WorldCat. Numbers are assigned serially, and as of mid-2013 over a
billion OCNs had been created. In September 2013, the
these numbers to be in the public domain, removing a perceived barrier
to widespread use of OCNs outside
OCLC itself. The control numbers
link WorldCat's records to local library system records by providing a
common reference key for a record across libraries.
OCNs are particularly useful as identifiers for books and other
bibliographic materials that do not have ISBNs (e.g., books published
before 1970). OCNs are used as identifiers often in and
Wikidata. In October 2013, it was reported that out of 29,673
Infobox Book in, "there were 23,304 ISBNs and
15,226 OCNs"; and regarding Wikidata: "of around 14 million Wikidata
items, 28,741 were books. 5403
Wikidata items have an
with them, and 12,262 have OCNs."
OCLC also runs the Virtual International Authority
File (VIAF), an
international name authority file. VIAF numbers are broadly used as
OCLC offices in
Leiden (the Netherlands)
OCLC acquired NetLibrary, a provider of electronic books and textbooks
in 2002 and sold it in 2010 to EBSCO Industries.
OCLC owns 100% of
the shares of
OCLC PICA, a library automation systems and services
company which has its headquarters in
Leiden in the Netherlands and
which was renamed "OCLC" at the end of 2007. In July 2006, the
Research Libraries Group (RLG) merged with OCLC. On January
OCLC announced that it had purchased EZproxy. It has
also acquired OAIster. The process started in January 2009 and from
October 31, 2009,
OAIster records are freely available via
WorldCat.org. In January 2015,
OCLC acquired Sustainable Collection
Services (SCS). SCS offered consulting services based on analyzing
library print collection data to help libraries manage and share
materials. In 2017,
OCLC acquired Relais International, a library
interlibrary loan service provider based in Ottawa, Canada.
OCLC has been criticized for monopolistic practices. In July 2010,
the company was sued by SkyRiver, a rival startup, in an antitrust
suit. Library automation company
Innovative Interfaces joined
SkyRiver in the suit. The suit was dropped in March 2013, however,
following the acquisition of SkyRiver by Innovative Interfaces.
Library and information science portal
Public library advocacy
^ a b c 2015/2016
OCLC annual report. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC. 2014.
^ a b "
OCLC Consolidated Financial Statements 2015–16" (PDF). OCLC.
September 12, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
^ "Certificate of Amendment of Articles of Incorporation of OCLC, Inc.
and Amended Articles of Incorporation of
OCLC Online Computer Library
Center, Incorporated". Ohio Secretary of State. February 6, 1981.
Retrieved May 28, 2017.
^ "About OCLC". OCLC. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
^ a b "In the beginning". Retrieved 2012-08-28.
^ Intner, Sheila (March–April 2007). "The Passing of an Era".
Technicalities. 27: 1–14. ISSN 0272-0884.
^ Bates, Marcia J; Maack, Mary Niles, eds. (2010). Encyclopedia of
library and information sciences. V (3rd ed.). Boca Raton, Florida:
CRC Press. p. 3924. ISBN 9780849397127.
^ Bailey-Hainer, Brenda (October 19, 2009). "The
OCLC Network of
Regional Service Providers: The Last 10 Years". Journal of Library
Administration. 49 (6): 621–629. doi:10.1080/01930820903238792.
^ O'Neill, Nancy (Nov–Dec 2004). "Open
WorldCat Pilot: A User's
Perspective". Searcher. 12 (10): 54–60. ISSN 1070-4795.
^ "WikiD". OCLC. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
OCLC DeweyBrowser". deweybrowser.oclc.org. Retrieved May 28,
^ "Preservation Service Center". OCLC. Archived from the original on
December 29, 2003.
^ "QuestionPoint". OCLC. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
OCLC prints last library catalog cards". www.oclc.org. October 1,
2015. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
^ "CONTENTdm". OCLC. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
^ Hyatt, Shirley; Young, Jeffrey A. "
OCLC Research Publications
Repository". D-Lib Magazine. 11 (3).
OCLC Publications". Retrieved 2012-08-28.
OCLC Membership Reports". Retrieved 2012-08-28.
OCLC Newsletters". Retrieved 2012-08-28.
OCLC Presentations". Retrieved 2012-08-28.
^ a b c Rosa, Cathy De (October 22, 2009). "Advocacy and OCLC".
Journal of Library Administration. 49 (7): 719–726.
doi:10.1080/01930820903260572. ISSN 0193-0826.
^ Grossman, Wendy M. (January 21, 2009). "Why you can't find a library
book in your search engine". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
^ "WebJunction". Oclc.org. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
^ "Advocacy: From Awareness to Funding, the next chapter".
^ "A global library resource". oclc.org.
^ "First search".
^ "Open WorldCat". Worldcat.org. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
^ Wallis, Richard (September 24, 2013). "
Numbers Public Domain".
OCLC Control Number". Retrieved 2014-01-03.
^ HangingTogether.org (October 11, 2013). "
OCLC Control Numbers in the
^ Jordan, Jay (March 17, 2010). "Letter to members 2010". OCLC.
Archived from the original on March 26, 2010.
^ Rogers, Michael (October 30, 2007). "CLC/
OCLC Pica Merge". Library
Journal. New York. Archived from the original on October 28,
^ Wilson, Lizabeth; Neal, James; Jordan, Jay (October 2006). "RLG and
OCLC: Combining for the Future" (guest editorial). Library and
Information Science. Vol. 6, no. 4. Retrieved via Project
Muse database, 2017-06-21.
^ "RLG to Combine with OCLC" (press release).
OCLC Worldwide. May 3,
2006. worldcat.org. Retrieved 2017-06-22.
^ "News releases". www.oclc.org.
^ Price, Gary (January 13, 2015). "Print Collections:
Sustainable Collection Services". Infodocket. Retrieved March 6,
OCLC agrees to acquire Relais International to provide library
consortia more options for resource sharing". January 17, 2017.
Retrieved May 16, 2017.
^ Beall, Jeffrey (2008). "OCLC: A Review". In Roberto, K.R. Radical
Cataloging: Essays at the Front (PDF). Jefferson, NC: McFarland &
Company. pp. 85–93. ISBN 0786435437.
^ Coyle, Karen (July 29, 2010). "SkyRiver Sues
OCLC over Anti-Trust".
^ Breeding, Marshall (July 29, 2010). "SkyRiver and Innovative
File Major Antitrust Lawsuit Against OCLC". Library
Journal. Archived from the original on August 2, 2010.
^ Price, Gary (March 4, 2013). "III Drops
OCLC Suit, Will Absorb
SkyRiver". Library Journal.
Bénaud, Claire-Lise; Bordeianu, Sever (October 2015). "OCLC's
WorldShare Management Services: a brave new world for catalogers".
Cataloging & Classification Quarterly. 53 (7): 738–752.
Blackman, Cathy; Moore, Erica Rae; Seikel, Michele; Smith, Mandi (July
WorldCat and SkyRiver: a comparison of record quantity and
fullness". Library Resources & Technical Services. 58 (3):
Breeding, Marshall (May 2015). "Library services platforms: a maturing
genre of products". Library Technology Reports. 51 (4): 1–38.
Matthews, Joseph R. (July 2016). "An environmental scan of OCLC
alternatives: a management perspective". Public Library Quarterly. 35
(3): 175–187. doi:10.1080/01616846.2016.1210440.
McKenzie, Elizabeth (January 2012).
OCLC changes its rules for use of
records in WorldCat: library community pushback through blogs and
cultures of resistance (Technical report). Boston: Suffolk University
Law School. Research paper 12-06.
Richardson, Ellen (January 2012). "Ain't no (Sky)River wide enough to
keep me from getting to you: SkyRiver, Innovative, OCLC, and the fight
for control over the bibliographic data, cataloging services, ILL, and
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