OCLC is a nonprofit membership organization that promotes cooperation
among libraries worldwide. More than 60,000 libraries in 112 countries
have used OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend and preserve
print and electronic library materials.
OCLC was established in Ohio in 1967 by a small
group of libraries whose leaders believed that working together they
could find practical solutions to some of the day’s most challenging
issues. What began as a way to automate the traditional library card
catalog rapidly became a collaborative revolution that involved thousands
of libraries around the world. Working together, OCLC and its member
libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, which now contains
over 85 million bibliographic records and more than 1.1 billion library
Collaboration among librarians and OCLC solved the practical problem of
automated cataloging. Ongoing collaboration led to additional OCLC services,
including services that help libraries build e-content collections and
provide online access to special library collections like maps, newspapers,
photographs and local histories.
The OCLC membership jointly created the largest interlibrary loan system
in the world. Recent expansions and new partnerships in Europe now enable
the OCLC collaborative to exchange more than 9.7 million items annually
to information consumers and scholars around the world.
WorldCat.org continues OCLC’s efforts—begun with the Open
WorldCat program— to make library resources more visible to Web users
and to increase awareness of libraries as a primary source of reliable
information and helpful personal assistance. Where Open WorldCat inserts “Find
in a Library” results within regular search engine results, WorldCat.org
provides a permanent destination page and search box that lets a
broader range of people discover the riches of library-held materials cataloged
in the WorldCat database. Both services open up the assets of the
OCLC cooperative to the searchers of the world.
In addition to the many services offered, OCLC funds library research
programs, library advocacy efforts, scholarships, market research and professional
OCLC Programs and Research incubates new technologies,
sponsors the work of library scientists and represents libraries on a
range of international standards bodies. OCLC Programs and Research is
also actively engaged with the world’s information community to
further the science of librarianship.
OCLC library advocacy programs are part of a long-term initiative to champion
libraries to increase their visibility and viability within their communities.
Programs include advertising and marketing materials to reinforce the idea
of the library as relevant, and market research reports that identify and
communicate trends of importance to the library profession.
OCLC provides financial support for those beginning their library careers
and for established professionals who excel in their endeavors through
a series of annual awards and scholarships. Of note is the IFLA/OCLC Early
Career Development Fellowship Program, jointly sponsored by the International
Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), OCLC and the
American Theological Library Association (ATLA). The program provides early
career development and continuing education for library and information
science professionals from countries with developing economies.
OCLC participates in WebJunction, which is an online
community of libraries and other agencies that share knowledge and experience
to provide the broadest public access to information technology. A service
created by the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation’s U.S. Library Program, OCLC and other partners,
WebJunction features articles, handouts, courses and forum discussions
that are practical, down-to-earth and friendly. WebJunction addresses
the real issues that librarians and library staff face every day.
vision is to be the leading global library cooperative, helping libraries
serve people by providing economical access to knowledge through
innovation and collaboration. OCLC is headquartered in Dublin, Ohio,
U.S. and has offices throughout the world.