Online Computer Library Center

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OCLC booth at the 106th German Librarianship Day 2017 in Frankfurt

The Online Computer Library Center ( OCLC ) is a worldwide non-profit organization and a service provider for libraries of all kinds, which was founded in 1967 on the initiative of university professors in Dublin (Ohio) (USA). The aim was to build a computer-based network system for the university libraries of Ohio in order to make work more effective through the cooperative use of library data, for example by taking over bibliographic data from WorldCat .

Structure and financing

OCLC is funded through membership fees. In order to use the services offered by OCLC, it is necessary to be a member. OCLC is headquartered in Dublin, Ohio , USA. Since OCLC operates worldwide, there is the OCLC EMEA cooperative, headquartered in Leiden , the Netherlands , which is responsible for the OCLC's services and the support of the participating libraries in Europe , South Africa and the Middle East . OCLC EMEA is divided into three service centers, which are responsible for certain regions and develop services for the participating libraries in cooperation with OCLC Columbus. The Service Center Mitte at the University Library in Leiden is the contact for the Benelux countries , Germany , Austria and Switzerland . Another Service Center North is based in Sheffield and is responsible for Scandinavia , England , Eastern Europe , the Baltic States , the Middle East and Africa. The Service Center South is located in Paris and is responsible for France , Spain , Portugal , Italy , Greece , Cyprus , Slovenia and Israel ; OCLC USA works for Australia , Asia and Oceania .

In 2008, more than 60,000 libraries in many countries around the world were using OCLC services. In Germany, for example, it is the Göttingen SUB that z. B. offers access to WorldCat and the databases via FirstSearch. OCLC EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) maintains a. regional branches in Germany (Oberhaching, Berlin, Böhl-Iggelheim), Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The division works with professionals and end-users from academic and public libraries, healthcare, and government and cultural institutions.


In the beginning it was only university libraries that merged in 1967 in Ohio to form a network under the name Ohio College Library Center . According to Fred Kilgours, the first president of OCLC, the aim was to develop a computer library system with which "library users no longer have to come to the library, but the library to them" (from: "GBV and Pica: Shaping the future together" ). The main task of the library network is therefore to provide bibliographic information when and where the user needs it. The core of this library system was the "Online Union Catalog" (OUC, now WorldCat ), to which the member libraries contributed through so-called "Online Shared Cataloging". The Online Union Catalog was a service to which 54 university libraries belonged when it was made available on the Internet . Until 1977, however, the catalog was only available to libraries in the USA. In October 1978 the first step towards internationalization began with the provision of 750,000 catalog data from the OUC for the Royal Library of the Netherlands for PICA .

In 1981, the first European OCLC office was opened in Birmingham (in the same year the company was renamed OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc.). This was the first step in establishing a global network of libraries. In addition to the Royal Library from the Netherlands mentioned above, other national libraries have joined the OCLC network to this day , including the British Library , the German National Library and the French National Library . In 2000 the Goettingen State and University Library became the first German full member of the OCLC network.

Products and services (chargeable)

OCLC offers a variety of services aimed either at the libraries themselves or the library user. Most of the services, however, are tools to optimize or simplify library operations. These services are used, for example, in the areas of cataloging or interlibrary loan ; the library user comes into contact at most with FirstSearch and thus also with WorldCat . Some of the main services are:

  • Connexion: is a collection of tools for online cataloging and is used to produce title recordings.
  • CatExpress: is a web-based tool for simplified cataloging, particularly suitable for libraries whose employees have little experience in cataloging.
  • WorldCat Collections Sets: provides access to collections of MARC data sets on microfilm, microfiche or as an electronic resource. New recordings are in turn automatically transferred to WorldCat (usually once a week). There are currently more than 200 collections, including American Architectural Books, Early English Books 1475–1700, and History of Women.
  • Dewey Services: Thesauri for the Dewey Decimal Classification have been available from OCLC since 1988, now in their 22nd edition (also available as an electronic resource (WebDewey)).
  • FirstSearch: is a tool for searching WorldCat and selected databases. The user should be able to search independently. Depending on the level, he has more or fewer search options. By accessing WorldCat and other databases hosted or created by OCLC, Firstsearch offers the following features:
    • Access to over 58 million recordings
    • Access to millions of full text articles
    • Proof of ownership from libraries
    • Covers various types of media from books to MP3 files
    • Access to the "Hand Press Book Database" developed by the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL), a special book history database that contains around three million historical books from around 1455 to 1830.
  • WorldCat : is a global, joint catalog with more than 9000 participating institutions that jointly maintain and expand the WorldCat. On average, one data record is added every ten seconds. There is evidence of media in over 400 languages ​​that cover a period back to the Middle Ages. Because of its data volume, WorldCat is the largest bibliographic database in the world, and at the same time it forms the backbone of many services. An import or export of MARC and DC data sets is possible
  • Open WorldCat: The Open WorldCat project has existed since 2003. Internet users can also use Yahoo or Google to search WorldCat for a search query.
  • WinIBW : Cataloging client used by many library associations and national libraries .

Web links