Results tagged “introductions” from WorldCat Blog

How it all began...

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Hello WorldCat world! My name is Alice, and I work in the Creative and Branding Services department of OCLC. I want to tell you the backstory of WorldCat...not all the political stuff, but the actual night that WorldCat went live more than 30 years ago.

You see, WorldCat starts with a fairy tale-like "It was a dark and stormy night..." What follows is the account of the beginnings of WorldCat, as told to me by Phil Schieber, who is the longtime heritage-keeper of OCLC. He knows more about the history of WorldCat than anyone else, I think.

Although it happened in 1971, the story didn't get written down for awhile. It first appeared in a Newcomen Society Address given by then OCLC president Dr. K. Wayne Smith on May 21, 1997 in honor of OCLC's 30th anniversary.

"On August 26, 1971, the Alden Library at Ohio University became the first library in the world to do online cataloging. That first day, Ohio University was able to catalog 133 books online. That first night, back in Columbus, the OCLC computer system was struck by lightning. It was an auspicious beginning. The first year it used OCLC, Ohio University was able to increase the number of books it cataloged by a a third, while reducing its staff by 17 positions through attrition. OCLC was indeed delivering on its promise of increasing access to information while reducing costs. Word of this new idea spread on campuses across the country. The online revolution in libraries had begun."

Thirty Years of Furthering Access to the World's Information by Dr. K. Wayne Smith, 1997.

Happily, there has not been a lightning strike since, to the WorldCat database or servers....