DUBLIN, Ohio, Jan. 21, 1994--There are now more than a half-billion holding symbols in the OCLC Online Union Catalog, the world's largest bibliographic database.
The 500 millionth holding symbol was attached in December to one of the more than 29 million records in the Online Union Catalog.
Holding symbols, also known as location listings, are unique three-letter codes assigned to OCLC member institutions and attached to bibliographic records in the Online Union Catalog to show users which libraries hold particular items.
K. Wayne Smith, OCLC president and CEO, said the milestone is a tribute to staff members from the more than 17,000 libraries in 52 countries participating in OCLC services.
"Library staff throughout the world have been building this unique resource--the Online Union Catalog--keystroke by keystroke for the last 22 years," Dr. Smith said. "I congratulate OCLC member libraries on surpassing the 500 millionth holdings mark, another historic achievement in interinstitutional cooperation."
The OCLC Online Union Catalog is a database containing more than 29 million records of bibliographic information. With each record is a list of holding symbols that identify participating libraries that have used the record for cataloging. Librarians and end users searching the Online Union Catalog can determine which institutions have the item they need by the three-letter holdings symbol attached to the bibliographic record.
In 1973, OCLC logged its first millionth holdings symbol when the Online Union Catalog contained some 600,000 records. By 1981, holdings surpassed the 100 million mark on nearly 8 million records. In 1985, there were some 200 million holdings attached to 12 million records. Since then, an average of 35 million holding symbols have been added to the OCLC Online Union Catalog each year.
Holding symbols cannot be counted like records entering into the Online Union Catalog, according to Herb Marine, OCLC senior consulting systems analyst. Bibliographic records are entered into the OCLC Online Union Catalog one at a time, and each is assigned a master number in its file. Holdings information comes from a much more active file. OCLC counts holdings by scanning the database once a week, so it is impossible to pinpoint the institution that attached the 500 millionth holding symbol.
OCLC is a nonprofit computer library service and research organization whose computer network and services link more than 17,000 libraries in 52 countries and territories.
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