OCLC, Inc.
Nonprofit cooperative
IndustryInformation
FoundedJuly 5, 1967; 53 years ago (1967-07-05) (as Ohio College Library Center)
FounderFrederick G. Kilgour
Headquarters,
US
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Skip Prichard, President and CEO
Products
Revenue$203 million[1] (2015–16)
Total assets$425 million[2] (2015–16)
Total equity$239 million[2] (2015–16)
Members16,964 libraries in 122 countries[1] (2015–16)
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata}

OCLC, Inc., doing business as OCLC,[3] is an American nonprofit cooperative organization "dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world's information and reducing information costs".[4] It was founded in 1967 as the Ohio College Library Center, then became the Online Computer Library Center as it expanded. In 2017, the name was formally changed to OCLC, Inc.[3] OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the largest online public access catalog (OPAC) in the world.[5] OCLC is funded mainly by the fees that libraries pay (around $200 million annually in total as of 2016) for the many different services it offers.[1] OCLC also maintains the Dewey Decimal Classification system.

History

OCLC began in 1967, as the Ohio College Library Center, through a collaboration of university presidents, vice presidents, and library directors who wanted to create a cooperative, computerized network for libraries in the state of Ohio. 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[6] and hired Frederick G. Kilgour, a former Yale University medical school librarian, to design the shared cataloging system.[7] 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, bringing libraries together to cooperatively keep track of the world's information in order to best serve researchers and scholars. The first library to do online cataloging through OCLC was the Alden Library at Ohio University on August 26, 1971. This was the first online cataloging by any library worldwide.[6]

Membership in 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.[8]

As 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 the OCLC Members Council. During 2008, OCLC commissioned two studies to look at distribution channels; at the same time, the council approved governance changes that had been recommended by the Board of Trustees severing the tie between the networks and governance. In early 2009, OCLC negotiated new contracts with the former networks and opened a centralized support center.[9]

Services

OCLC provides bibliographic, abstract and full-text information to anyone.

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.[5] WorldCat has holding records from public and private libraries worldwide.

The Online Computer Library Center acquired the trademark and copyrights associated with the Dewey Decimal Classification System when it bought Forest Press in 1988. A browser[10] 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,[11] with its principal office in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Starting in 1971, OCLC produced catalog cards for members alongside its shared online catalog; the company printed its last catalog cards on October 1, 2015.[12]

QuestionPoint

QuestionPoint,[13] an around-the-clock reference service provided to users by a cooperative of participating global libraries, was acquired by Springshare from OCLC in 2019 and migrated to Springshare's LibAnswers platform.[14][15]

Software

OCLC commercially sells software, such as: