Note: Countdown time based on 4pm EDT on June 23, 2017 to Midnight EDT on July 6, 2017.
On July 6, 1967, the nonprofit Ohio College Library Center was established to create a shared electronic library for Ohio colleges and universities. Frederick Kilgour, founder and first President, had a plan to build a shared, online cataloging system that would effectively merge library catalogs through a computer network and database so that libraries could work collaboratively, save time and share resources.
What began 50 years ago as a regional computer system for 54 Ohio colleges has become OCLC, a global library cooperative that provides shared technology services, original research and community programs to over 16,000 libraries in 120 countries.
The OCLC Online Union Catalog began operation in 1971. Catalogers at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, were first to catalog a book using the online cataloging system. That database, now known as WorldCat, is the world’s most comprehensive database of information about library collections. Today, WorldCat comprises more than 396 million records representing more than 2.5 billion titles in libraries worldwide
A brief timeline of highlights during OCLC’s 50 years of service to libraries:
- 1967: OCLC is founded
- 1971: Ohio University is first to catalog a book online using the online shared cataloging system
- 1979: OCLC introduces the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) system
- 1988: OCLC begins publishing the Dewey Decimal classification system
- 1991: FirstSearch is introduced as the first end-user interface for library reference services
- 2003: WebJunction launches as an online professional resource for public libraries, librarians
- 2006: WorldCat.org launches to provide online access to library collections over the internet
- 2011: WorldShare Management Services debuts as the first cloud-based library management system
- 2015: OCLC prints its last library catalog card after a multi-decade run of 1.9 billion
- 2017: Tipasa launches as first cloud-based interlibrary loan management service
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