Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

The Shared Cataloging System of the Ohio College Library Center

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

The Shared Cataloging System of the Ohio College Library Center

Article excerpt

Development and implementation of an off-line catalog card production system and an online shared cataloging system are described. In off-line production, average cost per card for 529,893 catalog cards in finished form and alphabetized for filing was 6.57 cents. An account is given of system design and equipment selection for the online system. File organization and programs are described, and the online cataloging system is discussed. The system is easy to use, efficient, reliable, and cost beneficial.

The Ohio College Library Center (OCLC) is a not-for-profit corporation chartered by the State of Ohio on July 6, 1967. Ohio colleges and universities may become members of the center; forty-nine institutions are participating in 1971/72. The center may also work with other regional centers that may "become a part of any national electronic network for bibliographic communication."

The objectives of OCLC are to increase the availability to individual students and faculty of resources in Ohio's academic libraries, and at the same time to decrease the rate of rise of library costs per student.

The OCLC system complies with national and international standards and has been designed to operate as a node in a future national network as well as to attain the more immediate target of providing computer support to Ohio academic libraries. The system is based on a central computer with a large, randomaccess, secondary memory, and cathode ray tube terminals which are connected to the central computer by a network of telephone circuits. The large secondary memory contains a file of bibliographic records and indexes to the bibliographic record file. Access to this central file from the remote terminals located in member libraries requires fewer than five seconds.

OCLC will eventually have five online subsystems: (1) shared cataloging; (2) serials control; (3) technical processing; (4) remote catalog access and circulation control; and (5) access by subject and title. This paper concentrates on cataloging; the other subsystems are not operational at the present time.

Figure 1 presents the general file design of the system. The shared cataloging system has been the first online subsystem to be activated, and the files and indexes it employs are depicted in figure 1 by the heavy black lines and arrows. As can be seen in the figure, much of the system required for shared cataloging is common with the other four subsystems.


The three main goals of shared cataloging are: (1) catalog cards printed to meet varying requirements of members; (2) an online union catalog; and (3) a communications system for requesting interlibrary loans. In addition, the bibliographic and location information in the system can be used for other purposes such as book selection and purchasing.

The only description of an online cataloging system that had appeared in the literature during the development of the OCLC system is that of the Shawnee Mission (Kansas) Public Schools.(1) The Shawnee Mission cataloging system produces uniform cards from a fixed-length, nonMARC record. The OCLC system uses a variable-length MARC record and has great flexibility for production of cards in various formats. There are a number of reports describing off-line catalog card production systems, including systems at the Georgia Institute of Technology,(2) the New England Library Information Network (NELINET),(3) and the University of Chicago.(4) The flexibility of the OCLC system distinguishes it from these three systems as well.


An off-line catalog card production system based on a file of MARC II records was activated a year before the online system.(5) OCLC supplied member libraries with request cards (punch cards prepunched with symbols for each holding library within an institution). For each title for which catalog cards were needed, members transcribed Library of Congress (LC) card numbers onto a request card. …

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