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The OCLC is an American non-profit on-line library service and research organization. The main OCLC services is to provide online bibliographic, abstract and full-text information, and are used by over 60,000 member libraries all over the world.[1] The four letters of its name originally stood for Online Computer Library Center, Inc., but the expanded name is no longer in use because the organization servers many libraries outside the state of Ohio.


OCLC was established in 1967, and was originally named the Ohio College Library Center. It was founded by the presidents of the academic institutions in Ohio (United States), to develop a computerized system in which the libraries of Ohio educational institutions could share resources and reduce costs. The first office of OCLC was in the Main Library of the Ohio State University (OSU). Its first computer room was located in the OSU Research Center. The first President was Frederick G. Kilgour (1914-2006).

While OCLC generated a large amount of cataloging content, it used the Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) specification from the Library of Congress, and was, for many years, the largest distributor of Library of Congress-generated MARC data.

Originally a regional computer network for 54 colleges in Ohio, the OCLC gradually grew into an international network. In 1977, the organization was renamed to OCLC, Inc., and changes were made in the governance structure to enable to libraries outside Ohio to become members. In 1981, the legal name of the corporation became "Online Computer Library Center, Inc.".

In 2002, OCLC acquired NetLibrary, the largest eContent provider in the world. In June 2006, the Research Libraries Group (RLG) merged into OCLC. In October 2007, OCLC and its European for-profit OCLC PICA division (a library automation systems and services company) merged into a single organization under the OCLC brand.[2]


OCLC is based in Dublin, Ohio, and is headed by a 15-member Board of Trustees.


OCLC provides following services for bibliographic data:

  • Cataloging and metadata
  • Collection management
  • Digitization and preservation
  • eContent (NetLibrary)
  • Reference (FirstSearch and WorldCat)
  • Resource Sharing
  • Online training and learning
  • Programs and Research (through RLG)

NetLibrary is the eContent division of OCLC. It provides libraries with eContent solutions that support Web-based research, reference and learning.

WorldCat is the largest Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) in the world, maintained by OCLC and its member libraries. It contains over 94 million bibliographic records.


  1. OCLC renames European division. Business First of Columbus (October 22, 2007). Retrieved on 2007-11-09.
  2. Michael Rogers (October 22, 2007). CLC/OCLC Pica Merge. Library Journal. Retrieved on 2007-11-09.