The Schwerdtfeger Library News - December 2005

By Jean Phillips, Librarian


What's OCLC and why is it important to libraries?

Founded in 1967, the Online Computer Library Center, OCLC, is a huge, world-wide library cooperative. It is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world's information and reducing library costs. More than 54,000 libraries in 109 countries use OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend and preserve library materials. 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 publicly available catalog. [2005 OCLC Annual Report]

Right now, that database holds 1 billion records! The WorldCat bibliographic database grew faster in 2004-2005 than any previous year since it began operation. In addition, libraries facilitated 9.5 million interlibrary loans and 85.5 million reference searches. The number of libraries participating in OCLC outside the U.S. has increased from 6,000 to 10,500, and the number of countries from 75 to 108.

What else does OCLC do?

  • Since becoming part of OCLC in 2002, the NetLibrary division has emerged as a leading provider of eBooks in the library community. Nearly 14,000 libraries in 46 countries have access to NetLibrary eBooks. The collection now offers about 100,000 titles from 439 publishers, and the list continues to grow. UW-Madison has access to many of these titles.
  • In its research and advocacy role, OCLC develops studies and reports that members can use in their own planning
    and advocacy activities.
  • The Open WorldCat program makes bibliographic records of library-owned materials in WorldCat visible and accessible to Web users through popular Internet search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, Search and Ask Jeeves.
  • OCLC provides data mining and manipulation capabilities that enable libraries to determine subject coverage in their collections and compare their collections with peer libraries to identify titles held in common and gaps in their collections.
  • OCLC develops tools for digital asset management, knowledge organization and systems and service architecture. And, in collaboration with other organizations, works to support and advance applicable standards.

The Schwerdtfeger Library is an OCLC member library. In addition to the services listed above, we use OCLC to create bibliographic records for export into our local catalog, MadCat. We also use OCLC to request materials not available on campus and to loan materials from our library to libraries around the country.

For more about OCLC, consult the current annual report.



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