The Online Computer Library Center ( OCLC ) is a global non-profit organization and a service provider for libraries of all kinds, which was founded in 1967 on the initiative of university professors in Ohio (USA). The aim was to build a system based on computer network system of the University Libraries of Ohio, to make it more effective to work through cooperative use of library data. An example is the external data transfer through the WorldCat. So, for example, assumes the library of the University of Illinois 80 to 85 percent of the data for admissions from the WorldCat.

Structure and Funding

OCLC is financed by membership fees. To use the services offered by OCLC, it is necessary to be a member. The headquarters of OCLC in Dublin, Ohio in the United States. Since OCLC working world, there is the cooperative OCLC EMEA, headquartered in Leiden, the Netherlands, which is responsible for the services of OCLC and the care of the participating libraries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Here, OCLC EMEA is divided into three service centers that are responsible for specific regions and in cooperation with OCLC Columbus develop services for the participating libraries. The Service Center Center at Leiden University Library is the contact person for the Benelux countries, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Another Service Center North is located in Birmingham and is responsible for Scandinavia, England, Eastern Europe, the Baltic States, Middle East and Africa. In Paris, the Service Center South, which is responsible for France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia and Israel, Australia, Asia and Oceania operates OCLC USA.

As of 2008 put more than 60,000 libraries in 112 countries and regions around the world OCLC services. In Germany, for example, the SUB, which FirstSearch provides access to WorldCat and the databases for example. OCLC EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) maintains inter alia, regional offices in Germany ( Oberhaching, Berlin, Bohl -Iggelheim ), Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The division collaborates with professionals and end-users from academic and public libraries, health care, and government and cultural institutions.


In the beginning there were only university libraries, who joined forces in 1967 in Ohio to form a composite under the name Ohio College Library Center. The aim was loud Fred Kilgour, to develop the first President of OCLC, a computer library system, with the " library users no longer need to come to the library, but the library to them " (from: " GBV and Pica: Shaping the Future Together " ). 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 updates ) to which the member libraries contributed by so-called " online shared cataloging ." The Online Union Catalog was a service, which included 54 university libraries in the provision of on the internet. By 1977 the catalog, however, only libraries in the United States was available. In October 1978, the first step towards internationalization began by providing 750,000 catalog data from the OUC for the Royal Library of the Netherlands for PICA.

1981 was the first European OCLC branch in Birmingham, England opened (the same year the company was renamed OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. ) This was the first step towards the establishment of a global network of libraries. Besides the already mentioned above Royal Library of the Netherlands also find other National libraries have today joined the OCLC network, including the British Library, the German National Library and the National Library of France. In 2000, the Goettingen State and University Library was the first German full member in OCLC.

Products and services (chargeable)

OCLC offers various services that are either directed at the libraries itself or the library user. However, most services are tools to optimize library operations or simplify. These services are used for example in the areas of cataloging and interlibrary loan; the library user comes with a maximum of FirstSearch, and therefore to WorldCat in contact. Some of the key services are:

  • Connexion: is a collection of tools for online cataloging and is used for the production of bibliographic records.
  • CatExpress: is a web-based tool for simplified cataloging, particularly suitable for libraries whose staff have little experience in cataloging.
  • WorldCat Collections Sets: provides access to collections of MARC records on microfilm, microfiche or electronic resource. New recordings are automatically transferred again in to WorldCat (usually once a week). Currently, more than 200 collections are available, for example, American Architectural Books, Early English Books 1475-1700 and History of Women.
  • Dewey Services: Thesauri for the Dewey Decimal Classification system are available at OCLC, now in its 22nd edition in (also known as Electronic resource available ( WebDewey ) ) since 1988.
  • FirstSearch: is a tool for searching in WorldCat and selected databases. In this case, the user should be placed in a position to independently search. Depending on the level he has more or less search options. By accessing the WorldCat and other OCLC hosted or created databases FirstSearch offers the following features: Access to more than 58 million images
  • Access to millions of full-text articles
  • Possession of evidence of libraries
  • Includes various types of media from books to MP3 files
  • Access to the Consortium of European Research Libraries ( CERL ) developed " Hand Press Book Database ", a special book historical database that contains about three million historical books from the period between about 1455 and 1830.