[Genealib] Fwd: Obit for a Friend OCLC Founder Fred Kilgour

Marta Metcalf mmetcalf at figzu.com
Tue Aug 22 13:18:55 EDT 2006

This was forwarded to me by a fellow librarian

>Goodbye to OCLC Founder Fred Kilgour
>I have been writing about search engines for ten years now. When 
>writing about and using search engines I have to think a lot how 
>information is organized ("How could I categorize these sites?") and 
>how it's NOT organized ("If someone tossed all these data together, 
>how might they link together?")
>Obviously organized is better. And it's not too surprising that 
>library Web sites in particular are so good at organizing 
>information; libraries and librarians have had thousands' of years 
>experience organizing. Computers and libraries are a very powerful combination.
>With the Internet being a relatively recent structure of the 
>mainstream, you might be surprised to know that the development of 
>databases and networks for libraries goes back over 30 years to the 
>early 70s. A pioneer in this area was Fred Kilgour, who moved to 
>Chapel Hill in 1990 and was a former Distinguished Research 
>Professor at the University of North Carolina School of Information 
>and Library Science. Mr. Kilgour passed away on July 31 at the age of 92.
>Mr. Kilgour was hired by the Ohio College Association in 1967 to 
>develop what would, in 1971, become the OCLC -- the Ohio College 
>Library Center. (Now it's the "Online Computer Library Center.") The 
>OCLC was a shared online cataloging system for the academic 
>libraries in the state. This sounds like old hat to those of us in 
>2006, but the REASON it sounds like old hat is because Fred Kilgour 
>figured it out in 1971 and it had a tremendous impact on 54 academic 
>libraries in Ohio. (The 
><http://www.oclc.org/news/releases/200631.htm>announcement about the 
>death of Mr. Kilgour notes: "in the first year of system use, the 
>Alden Library at Ohio University was able to increase the number of 
>books it cataloged by a third, while reducing its staff by 17 positions.")
>The OCLC continues to have a big impact; it has a staff of 1200 and 
>offices in seven countries. You can visit the OCLC Web site at 
><http://www.oclc.org/>http://www.oclc.org/. While this site is 
>primarily geared toward librarians and information professionals, 
>keep your eye on it; the new 
><http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/dotorg/default.htm>WorldCat.org site 
>will become available this month.
>What's WorldCat? It's a big library catalog. Really big. You'll be 
>able to search over ONE BILLION items in over 18,000 member 
>institutions around the world. And it's not just books, either -- 
>all kinds of information and media are cataloged here. (WorldCat is 
>constantly growing -- to watch the records being added, visit 
>If you've ever used an online library catalog, you have Mr. Kilgour 
>to thank for making your research a little bit easier. To read more 
>about him, please visit 
>Carolina Connections article from 2004, 
><http://www.oclc.org/about/history/default.htm>a brief article on 
>the history of OCLC, and 
><http://www.oclc.org/news/releases/200631.htm>the announcement of his passing.
>Thank you, Mr. Kilgour!

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