DUBLIN, Ohio, Feb. 7, 1994--In April, OCLC will begin providing Internet access to the PRISM service for cataloging and interlibrary loan on a trial basis for one year.
"We believe that, over time, some significant transition from the OCLC network to the Internet and NREN is likely," said K. Wayne Smith, OCLC president and CEO. "OCLC's basic objective is to help make this transition as smooth as possible for its entire membership. OCLC is committed to increasing access to the world's information and reducing the costs of both the access and the information. OCLC is not committed to maintaining a proprietary network, which has always been operated on essentially a break-even basis as a means to an end."
"OCLC currently estimates that fewer than a third of its 17,000 participating libraries are able to access the Internet," Dr. Smith stated. "Nonetheless, if these libraries move to the Internet, the number is large enough to affect OCLC's overall telecommunications cost structure. To insure fairness and equity in these costs for all OCLC members, there will have to be a nominal connect-hour charge for cataloging and ILL access to Internet at least during a transition period."
The Internet connection to the PRISM service will provide full, interactive functionality of the cataloging and interlibrary loan systems, when accessed via OCLC PASSPORT software.
"After a year of experience with Internet access, during which OCLC hopes to get answers to questions regarding user support, costs, response time, billing, and reliability, we will be in a better position to make decisions about the facilities we will need for providing Internet access on a permanent basis," said Shirley Hyatt, manager, product services.
According to Ms. Hyatt, one of the biggest changes that will come with expanded Internet access is that OCLC and its regional network affiliates will no longer be able to provide libraries with the same "cradle-to-grave" support that they currently have with the OCLC network and OCLC workstations and products.
Ms. Hyatt also noted that having PRISM services available via the Internet will broaden international access to OCLC, particularly for countries in which high telecommunications costs currently create a barrier.
During the test, if demand exceeds capacity (500 simultaneous users), additional users will temporarily be prevented from logging on. Therefore, OCLC encourages users not to remove their other OCLC access methods until they gain more experience with cataloging and resource sharing via the Internet.
Prior to the beginning of the test, users will receive an OCLC technical bulletin with instructions for logging on.
OCLC currently provides Internet access with no connect charge for reference services and the Electronic Journals Online publications. This policy will be continued.
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.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL: Nita Dean (614) 761-5002