Online Computer Library Center

From New World Encyclopedia
OCLC Online Computer Library Center
Type Nonprofit membership cooperative
Founded Dublin, OH, U.S. (1967)
Headquarters Dublin, OH, U.S.
Key peopleRobert L. (Jay) Jordan (Pres and CEO)
Area servedWorldwide
Active membersMore than 60,000 libraries in 112 countries and territories around the world
IndustryLibrary services
ProductsWorldcat, NetLibrary, FirstSearch, Dewey Decimal Classification, VDX, WebJunction, Questionpoint

The OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a "nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purpose of furthering access to the world's information and reducing information costs."[1] OCLC was founded in 1967 as the Ohio College Library Center, a library computer network among 54 college libraries in Ohio. In 1977, OCLC opened its membership to libraries beyond the original Ohio consortia, and changed its governance and its name from the Ohio College Library Center to OCLC, Inc. and OCLC Online Computer Library Center in 1981. Today, more than 60,000 libraries in 112 countries and territories around the world use OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend and preserve library materials.[2] The organization was founded by Fred Kilgour, and its offices are located in Dublin, Ohio.

OCLC acquired NetLibrary, the largest eContent provider, in 2002 and owns 100% of the shares of OCLC PICA, a library automation systems and services company. The company has its headquarters in Leiden in the Netherlands and was renamed into "OCLC" at the end of 2007.[3] In June 2006, the Research Libraries Group (RLG) merged into OCLC.

On January 11, 2008, OCLC announced that they had purchased EZproxy.[4]

A brief history

OCLC was originally established as the Ohio College Library Center (OCLC) in 1967, a computerized library system which connects 54 college libraries in Ohio. Frederick Gridley Kilgour (January 6, 1914 — July 31, 2006), a librarian at Yale Medical Library became the first president of OCLC. Under his leadership, OCLC developed from a regional library network system to an international library system.

In 1977, OCLC opened its network to libraries outside of their network and changed the Ohio College Library Center to OCLC, Inc. In 1981, OCLC Inc. became OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. OCLC today serves more than 60,000 libraries, academic, public, school, corporate, and other special libraries and information centers around the world.[1]

How it works

Researchers, students, faculty, scholars, professional librarians and other information seekers use OCLC services to obtain bibliographic, abstract and full-text information when and where they need it.

OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat—the OCLC Online Union Catalog, the largest Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) in the world. WorldCat contains holding records from most public and private libraries worldwide. WorldCat is available through many libraries and university computer networks.

The Open WorldCat program makes records of library-owned materials in OCLC's WorldCat database available to Web users on popular Internet search, bibliographic and bookselling sites. OCLC member libraries' catalogs are more accessible from the sites where many people start their search for information.

Open WorldCat records may be accessed through Google or Yahoo's advanced search features, by simply limiting the scope of a search to the site or domain "" In the fall of 2004, the Open WorldCat collection was expanded to include information about all WorldCat records.

In October 2005, the OCLC technical staff began a wiki-like project that allows readers and librarians to add commentary, and structured-field information, associated with any WorldCat record.

OCLC owns a preservation microfilm and digitization operation called the OCLC Preservation Service Center,[5] with its principal office in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Libraries, museums, historical societies, colleges and universities utilize the OCLC Preservation Services to preserve printed works, books, maps, manuscripts, newspapers, etc. in microfilm format for future generations due to its 500-year life expectancy. In addition OCLC Preservation Services converts print and microfilm to digital objects for computer access.

Online database

OCLC maintains a database for cataloging and searching purposes which is used by librarians and the public. OCLC Passport was one of the computer programs used. Connexion was introduced in 2001 and replaced Passport when it was phased out in May of 2005.

This database contains records in MAchine Readable Cataloguing (MARC) format contributed by library catalogers worldwide who use OCLC as a cataloging tool. These MARC format records are then downloaded into the libraries local catalog systems to drive their online catalogs. This allows libraries worldwide to find and download records for materials they want to add to their local catalog without having to go through the lengthy process of cataloging them each individually.

As of February 2007, their database contains over 1.1 billion cataloged items. It remains the world's largest bibliographic database. Connexion is available to professional librarians both as a computer program or on the web at

WorldCat is also available to the public for searching through a web-based service called FirstSearch, as well as through the Open WorldCat program.

Dewey Decimal System

The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC, also called the Dewey Decimal System) is a proprietary system of library classification developed by Melvil Dewey in 1876, and has since then been greatly modified and expanded through twenty-two major revisions, the most recent in 2004.

The Online Computer Library Center of Dublin, Ohio, acquired the trademark and any copyrights associated with the Dewey Decimal System when it bought Forest Press in 1988. OCLC maintains the classification system and publishes new editions of the system. The work of assigning a DDC number to each newly published book is performed by a division of the Library of Congress, whose recommended assignments are either accepted or rejected by the OCLC after review by an advisory board; to date all have been accepted.

In September 2003, the OCLC sued the Library Hotel for trademark infringement. The settlement was that the OCLC would allow the Library Hotel to use the system in its hotel and marketing. In exchange, the Hotel would acknowledge the Center's ownership of the trademark and make a donation to a nonprofit organization promoting reading and literacy among children.

The Library Hotel is a 60-room boutique hotel in New York City, located at 299 Madison Avenue (at 41st Street), near the New York Public Library, Bryant Park, and Grand Central Terminal. The Hotel was designed by architect designer Christopher Breed an associate for Foster and Partners.

The hotel boasts a unique organizing principle: each of its ten guest floors has a theme, designated after a major category of the Dewey Decimal Classification (the 5th floor, for example, is the 500s, the Sciences), with each room as a subcategory or genre, such as Mathematics (Room 500.001) or Botany (Room 500.004). (Dewey categories 000, 100, and 200 are placed on the 10th, 11th, and 12th floors, respectively.) Other room themes include Erotic Literature (Room 800.001), Poetry (Room 800.003), and Music (Room 700.005). All rooms have a small complement of books and decorations that accompany the theme, with 6000 books overall throughout the hotel.


WebJunction is a division of OCLC funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. WebJunction is a communication and learning platform for librarians that seeks "to enable relevant, vibrant, sustainable libraries for every community"[6] and describes its mission as follows.

WebJunction is a cooperative of library staff sharing and using online resources that enable us to identify and embrace appropriate technologies and apply them to our daily work.

To sustain this effort, we partner with library and cultural heritage organizations and those that support them in meeting their objectives through effective use of collaborative, web-based technologies.[6]

WebJunction provides information resources for librarians with those in rural and isolated libraries in mind. It offers various discussion groups for librarians to join and send newsletters. WebJunction also offers online courses from computer skills to professional library training for specific tasks and works librarians need with free or a nominal fee. It is a multi-functional learning and communication platform for librarians of all types of libraries.


QuestionPoint reference management service provides libraries, museums, archives, information centers, and others in the world with tools to communicate with users in multiple ways. This around-the-clock reference service is provided by a cooperative of participating global libraries.[7]

OCLC regional service providers

Regional service providers contract with OCLC to provide support and training for OCLC services. This chart represents only OCLC services.

Name Region Website
Amigos library services Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
BCR (Bibiographic Center for Research) Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
ILLINET Illinois
MINITEX Library Information Network Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota
MLC (Michigan Library Consortium) Michigan
MLNC (Missouri Library Network Corporation Missouri
NEBASE Nebraska
NELINET Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
Nylink New York
OHIONET Ohio, West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania
PALINET Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia
SOLINET Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Caribbean
WILS Wisconsin
FEDLINK U.S. Federal Libraries
OCLC Service Centers
OCLC Eastern Service Center Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia
OCLC Western Service Center Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Guam
OCLC Asia Pacific
OCLC Canada
OCLC Latin America
OCLC PICA (OCLC Europe, Middle East and Africa)

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 About OCLC, OCLC. Retrieved May 18, 2008.
  2. OCLC renames European division. Business First of Columbus (October 22, 2007). Retrieved November 9, 2007.
  3. Michael Rogers (October 22, 2007). CLC/OCLC Pica Merge. Library Journal. Retrieved November 9, 2007..
  4. OCLC acquires EZproxy authentication and access software DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, 11 January 2008. Retrieved May 17, 2008.
  5. Preservation Services, OCLC. Retrieved May 17, 2008.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Vision & Mission, WebJunction. Retrieved May 18, 2008.
  7. Overview, Questionpoint, OCLC. Retrieved May 18, 2008.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • De Rosa, Cathy. Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources: A Report to the OCLC Membership. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Online Computer Library Center, 2005. ISBN 1556533640 ISBN 9781556533648
  • OCLC. NextSpace: The OCLC Newsletter. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC, 2006.
  • OCLC. What the OCLC Interlibrary Loan Service Means to Me: A Collection of Essays. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Online Computer Library Center, 1999. ISBN 155653289X ISBN 9781556532894
  • OCLC. What the OCLC Online Union Catalog Means to Me: A Collection of Essays. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Online Computer Library Center, 1997. ISBN 1556 ISBN 532237 ISBN 9781556532238
  • OCLC., Philip Schieber, Virginia G. Voedisch, and Becky A. Wright. A Guide to Special Collections in the OCLC Database. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Online Computer Library Center, 1988. ISBN 1556530250 ISBN 9781556530258
  • Smith, K. Wayne. OCLC—Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC, 2000.

External links

All links retrieved November 17, 2022.


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