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Re: Theosophical library software

May 26, 1995 00:44 AM
by Olcott Library

On Wed, 24 May 1995, Dr. A.M.Bain wrote:

> Olcott Library:
> Please excuse this ignoramus: what does "OCLC record" stand
> for?


Here's some background on OCLC (this is NOT about theosophy, so
anyone who's not much interested in library technicalities can
skip this):

OCLC stands for "Online Computer Library Center." It is located
in Dublin, Ohio (suburb of Columbus) and has the largest database
of library cataloging records (over 33 million) in the world.  It
was established in 1967 as "Ohio College Library Center" and was
originally intended only for libraries in Ohio as a shared online
catalog.  Because it was so successful, libraries in other states
begged to join, and around 1972 they began to accept other
libraries as members.  In 1977, the governance of OCLC was
changed to include libraries outside Ohio, and in 1981 the name
was changed to "Online Computer Library Center."

In the mid-1980s, libraries in foreign countries joined, first
the British Library and some German libraries.  Today, OCLC
serves 18,000 libraries in 52 countries.  It is the world's
largest and most comprehensive database of bibliographic
information.  Practically every library of any standing in the US
is a member or has access to OCLC.  The Olcott Library joined
OCLC in 1994.

The foundation of OCLC's services is its Online Union Catalog,
containing the merged catalogs of libraries around the world.  It
can be accessed in a variety of ways for cataloging, interlibrary
loan, serials holding information, and reference services.
Access is by password only.  Catalogers in libraries access the
database to find appropriate records that describe the books they
own.  There is a fee to search and export the records, and to
attach the library's holding symbol (to tell the other libraries
that they own this title).  If a record cannot be found for an
item, a cataloger with authorization can create a record and
enter it into the OCLC database, to be shared by others (we earn
credits for doing this).  The OCLC database includes all
machine-readable cataloging records ever created by the Library
of Congress and by the British Library.

OCLC provides a wide variety of services which are related to its
large database.  Two of its major reference services are EPIC and
FirstSearch, both of which include access to other databases as
well as OCLC's own union catalog, now called "WorldCat."

Any further questions? (This is probably more explanation than
you were asking for, and I don't think you are and "ignoramus"
for asking.)

Elisabeth Trumpler

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