|OBS OCLC COMMITTEE|
George Washington University
For my final column, I would like to recap some of the major activities and accomplishments of OCLC in the past two years. Certainly, this is not so much an exhaustive listing as it is my own impressions of this unique organization, so forgive me if I’ve missed something obvious.
In May of 1998, Jay Jordan was named the new president and CEO of OCLC, succeeding K. Wayne Smith, who served in that capacity from 1989-March 1998. With Jordan has come a new and more global vision for the organization. OCLC has greatly expanded its coverage to include an ever-increasing number of members in countries outside the United States on several continents.
An emphasis in research has shifted to the development of products that marry OCLC’s unique databases to the World Wide Web. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the remodeling of FirstSearch and the development of the CORC Project. In my institution, WorldCat is among the many databases available to the students through FirstSearch; they are encouraged to use it, particularly when checking citations for law review. As for CORC, it seems a little slower to get off the ground with the law community. I counted only four law school libraries among its participants, and no law firms. Certainly, having the Library of Congress and GPO contribute bibliographic records for electronic resources is a great boon, and I hope that this project realizes its full potential with practical applications to the library world.
In late 1998, negotiations between OCLC and WLN began; they officially merged on January 1, 1999. "The move toward a merger developed because of a growing realization by both WLN and OCLC that an increasing number of libraries were using the services of both organizations and that a carefully thought-out merger might best serve the needs of all of our libraries," said Paul McCarthy, president and CEO of WLN. The infusion of WLN’s high quality records has improved the product of the OCLC databases immeasurably.
The OCLC Institute has developed into a wonderful source of continuing education for knowledge management professionals (in other words, us). The courses charge librarians to look at our profession in a new way and help to empower us to direct the manner in which our professional futures are formed to better fit (and perhaps lead) the organization of the digital world of the 21st century. I encourage everyone to attend an OCLC institute.
What can I say about Y2K? It certainly had the potential to wreak havoc on all of our computer applications, not to mention the millions of other non-compliant computer-related functions in our everyday lives. Many people spent great amounts of time upgrading systems for compliance; outdated systems were scrapped. We went home for New Year’s with more than a little concern about what we would find upon our return. I personally bought two gallons of water and a case of granola bars, just in case. Due to the hard work of our computer professionals, the catastrophe was averted, and work goes on at its usual frenetic pace.
I would like to remind everyone of the excellence of the OCLC Web site. It is a one-stop shop for information on all aspects of OCLC. You can find the home page at: http://www.oclc.org/oclc/menu/home1.htm. It has been a pleasure researching OCLC for these columns for the past two years. I look forward to reading my successor’s articles.