Happy 40th Birthday to the World's Largest Bibliographic Database! Happy Birthday to WorldCat!
On August 26, 1971, the OCLC Online Union Catalog and Shared Cataloging system (now known as WorldCat) began operation. That first day, from a single terminal, catalogers at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, cataloged 133 books online. Today, WorldCat comprises more than 240 million records representing more than 1.7 billion items in OCLC member libraries worldwide.
“We congratulate the thousands of librarians and catalogers around the world who have helped to build WorldCat over the past 40 years keystroke by keystroke, record by record,” said Jay Jordan, OCLC President and CEO. “We who work at OCLC are proud to have been a part of this remarkable story, and I want to thank our member institutions and employees for the years of dedicated effort that helped build this unique resource. Fred Kilgour’s vision—improving access to information through library cooperation—is every bit as vital today as it was in 1971. This anniversary is an important milestone in a shared journey that, I believe, will continue for many decades to come.”
Since 1971, 240 million records have been added to WorldCat, spanning more than 5,000 years of recorded knowledge, from about 3400 B.C. to the present. This unique collection of information encompasses records in a variety of formats—books, e-books, DVDs, digital resources, serials, sound recordings, musical scores, maps, visual materials, mixed materials and computer files. Like the knowledge it describes, WorldCat grows steadily. Every second, library members add seven records to WorldCat.
Once records have been added to WorldCat, they are discoverable on the Web through popular search and partner sites, and through WorldCat.org.
Records entered into WorldCat since 1971 have been continuously migrated, reformatted and updated to conform to newly issued cataloging standards. They have been touched and enhanced hundreds of times by librarians around the world and by OCLC staff and automated systems.
The first OCLC cathode ray tube terminal was the Irascope Model LTE, which was manufactured by Spiras Systems. OCLC deployed 68 LTES, one of which is now on permanent display in the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., and another in a new OCLC Museum dedicated today in Dublin, Ohio. The LTE was connected to OCLC via a dedicated, leased telephone line from AT&T; message traffic moved at the rate of 2400 baud (2,400 symbols per second).
More OCLC Facts and Fun (via The Wayback Machine)
- The OCLC.org domain was registered on August 11, 1989.
- WorldCat.org was registered on January 28, 1998
- Here’s the OCLC.org Homepage From Februrary 14, 1997
- OCLC System Statistics Crawled on June 6, 1997
- The Searching for Bibliographic Records Quick Reference Card (June 6, 1997)
- OCLC Annual Report 1994/95
- Reference News (December 1994)
- The 1995 Annual Review of OCLC Research
- The listed October 1, 1991 the First Data it Was Used in Commerce
- The Patent Was Awarded on July 21, 1998
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.