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Fragment of a discussion from First-Hand talk:The Birth of MELVYL
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OCLC (originally called the Ohio College Library Consortium) was designed to allow library staff to search a database of MARC records, and if an appropriate record was found (I.e., one that matched the book they were trying to catalog), the staff member could request a set of printed catalog cards to file in the local public catalog, thus avoiding the expense of "original cataloging." It was not designed to allow library patrons to find items in their local library. OCLC evolved to a national institutioin, supplying printed catalog cards to librararies around the world, and then to a large insistution offering multiple services. The Wikipedia article is good, but perhaps does not make clear the distinction between a public online catalog, with terminals for the patrons to perform searches, and a staff tool will specialized terminals for cataloging department staff.

Anotherhorizon18:27, 20 November 2012