511: Organization of Information

In Class Exercise: Using OCLC

A Brief History of OCLC

In the 1970s libraries began to share cataloguing records (in addition to acquisition, serials management, and collection development records) by computer. OCLC (originally the Ohio College Library Center) was the first major bibliographic utility allowing libraries to share their records with an increasingly larger network of other libraries. Another major utility was RLIN (Research Libraries Information Network) which is now integrated with OCLC.

The database grew quickly because it made cataloguing faster and easier as libraries were able to share the work and quickly make new materials available. OCLC records include all records from the Library of Congress, British Library, Library and Archives Canada, and many other national libraries, as well as many public and academic libraries. Eventually, OCLC changed its name to the Online Computer Library Center (in order to keep the acronym). In 2006, RLIN merged with OCLC.

There are two interfaces to OCLC Worldcat: the cataloguer's interface (http://connexion.oclc.org/) and the public interface (http://worldcat.org/). The in class exercise involves the use of the cataloguer's interface while Assignment 3 uses the public interface.

The public interface can locate material and show holdings in libraries radiating out from your location (by zipcode). The cataloguer's interface allows access to bibliographic records, authority records, holdings information, etc, for all libraries in the OCLC network.

Using OCLC Connexion (http://connexion.oclc.org/)

The purpose of this exercise is to introduce you to OCLC's technical side, and to the experience of a library employee's perspective. This time you will see the bibliographic universe from the inside.

Log into OCLC connexion using the authorization and password provided.

For each of the following questions write out the search key(s) you used, whether successful or not, as well as the answer to the question.

Select the Cataloging Tab or choose Worldcat from the Search Options menu at the upper left to begin a search. You will probably want to use the Keyword/ Numeric Search section unless you are already familiar with advanced search. Notice that beside the search box is a pull down menu with options. These allow you to search different fields.

There are multiple fields which can be searched. Most fields allow a phrase or keyword search. The phrase search (identified by an equals sign in the abbreviation or the words phrase search) searches for an exact phrase while the keyword search (identified by a colon attached to the abbreviation) searches for all the words in any order. (e.g. Title ti: versus Title Phrase ti=)

These abbreviations can be used in the advanced search window. Simply type the abbreviation (with its associated colon or equals sign) followed by your search term. You can enter multiple search terms here separated by AND or OR or NOT.


1. Retrieve the bibliographic record with the following LCCN: 2001-20328

Select LCCN (ln:) from the menu. The result of the search should be a bibliographic record in MARC format.

a) What is this item's ISBN? Why are there two 020 fields?

To retrieve holdings records for a given bibliographic record, select the pull down menu beside View. Select "Display Holdings" from this menu.

A Holdings type menu will appear underneath.

Select "All Holdings" and click Display holdings. This will provide you with a long list of all holdings listed in OCLC by libraries from around the world. These are sorted by 2 letter state, province and country codes. The US states are listed first followed by mixed Canadian provincial and other country codes.

The 040 field contains library codes for libraries that have contributed to this bibliographic record. There is a searchable list of library codes at the following URL: http://www.oclc.org/contacts/libraries/

Each library that contributes a bibliographic record for an item will be listed. DLC is the Library of Congress. UKM is the British Library Document Supply Centre code and NLC is the Library and Archives of Canada. OCL is the code for OCLC.

b) How many libraries in California report holdings?

c) How many libraries outside the US have holdings?

2. Retrieve the Library of Congress' bibliographic record with the following ISBN: 0950977209.

How can you tell if you have the Library of Congress' bibliographic record, rather than some other library? (Hint: look for the Library of Congress' code as listed earlier in this exercise.)

Why did you retrieve more than one bibliographic record this time?

Why are they different?

What is this item's LCCN (look in field 010—hint: only one record has field 010)?

3. Perform a title search for The Best of the Irish Tenors.

What is the real title of this recording?

4. Perform a subject phrase search for the Long Island Railroad

You should retrieve around 9 records. Why is each record being returned for this search?

Try a subject keyword search. How many records do you get? Check a few examples and see why they were returned.

5. Perform a title search for the words "dining" and "rail."

Scroll through the list (you should retrieve approximately 39 hits). Why did you retrieve the last few records?

Find the first edition of James D. Porterfield's first book. What are the subject headings?

6. Find Lawrence Block's books with the word "burglar" in the title.

(You should find a group screen with 553 records.) Find all iterations of The Burglar who Traded Ted Williams.

How can you characterise what you found?

Are there any apparent anomalies in the returned results?