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Subject: OCLC News


From: Marifay Makssour <mfm>
Date: Tuesday, July 2, 1991
After seeing the RLG release on its new organizational structure, the
members of the Conservation Distribution List might be interested in
seeing OCLC's release about the cessation of RLG-OCLC talks.  See
attached document.  Thanks.

                                           Phil Schieber (614) 764-6144


    DUBLIN, Ohio, June 28, 1991--Dr. K. Wayne Smith, President and Chief
Executive Officer, OCLC Online Computer Library Center, has issued the
following statement in regard to the cessation of discussions between
OCLC and the Research Libraries Group (RLG).

    The member libraries of RLG have informed OCLC of their decision to
    terminate any further discussions with OCLC concerning a proposed
    agreement for the transfer on a group basis of their cataloging and
    other technical processing activities from the RLIN System to the
    OCLC System.

    I, personally, am disappointed at this outcome.  OCLC had worked
    very hard over the past two years to open a dialogue with RLG and
    over the past six months to devise a reasonable and fair proposal to
    eliminate one of the great schisms in the research library community
    and to reduce the senseless duplication of effort between OCLC and

    The library community is well aware of my views regarding the use of
    scarce resources by public and not-for-profit organizations. I have
    said repeatedly that OCLC cannot do everything well, and neither can
    RLG or LC or WLN or others.  If each of us concentrated on what we
    can do best--if we applied the economic theory of comparative
    advantage--the real winner would be the American library community.
    In our proposed agreement, OCLC attempted to apply this principle to
    reduce some of the barriers to cooperation within the research
    library community.

    In brief, we attempted to consolidate most of the technical
    processing activities of RLG member libraries into the OCLC System
    so that substantial benefits would result both for RLG libraries and
    OCLC libraries through database enrichment and economies of scale.
    We also attempted to provide funding for continuing important RLG
    programmatic activities that are of interest to libraries.  Finally,
    we agreed to an intersystem link between the two organizations to be
    completed as quickly as possible. Permit me to elaborate on three
    aspects of the proposed agreement that was rejected by the RLG
    member libraries.

    A Negotiated Agreement.  What the RLG member libraries unilaterally
    rejected was an RLG-OCLC negotiated agreement, not an OCLC proposal.
    This agreement had been negotiated in good faith and in great detail
    over a six-month period by a top-level team of negotiators from both

    The Proposed Link.  OCLC proposed to link RLIN users to the OCLC
    database via its EPIC service.  This would be done right away.  RLG
    also wanted OCLC users to be able to access RLIN directly.  Such a
    seamless link would require a significant development effort.
    Nevertheless, OCLC agreed to implement the seamless link as soon as
    possible and within no more than 36 months.  OCLC's intent was
    clearly to complete this link with all deliberate speed, but within
    the unavoidable context of also implementing a new, $70-million
    telecommunications network and a new, $30-million Online System,
    which are now 70 percent and 40 percent installed, respectively.

    The Proposed Transfer of Technical Processing.  OCLC discussed with
    the group of research libraries that are the principal users of the
    RLIN system ways to transfer their technical processing and resource
    sharing activities to the OCLC System.  OCLC encouraged these
    libraries to join OCLC as full cataloging members and to do so
    through its regional network affiliates. In the course of these
    negotiations, the RLG libraries asked OCLC to agree to make payments
    for a limited time period to support certain RLG programmatic
    activities of interest to libraries.  OCLC agreed to make such
    payments provided there occurred an en masse transfer of technical
    processing to the OCLC System.  The influx of such a group of
    large-volume cataloging institutions would enhance the economies of
    scale of the OCLC System and make it even more cost-effective for
    all members.  It was also well within the capacity and capabilities
    of OCLC and its regional network affiliates to handle the migration
    of RLIN users to OCLC expeditiously.

    During the course of the negotiations, it became clear that RLG
    libraries were often seeking preferential arrangements that could
    not be supported by OCLC management or the regional networks or the
    OCLC membership.  Such arrangements were not included in the
    proposed agreement. I was prepared to recommend the agreement to the
    OCLC Board of Trustees because I believed that it met the test of
    fairness to the member libraries of both OCLC and RLG, that it would
    withstand public and legal scrutiny, and that it would help the
    entire library community at a time when resources are more scarce
    than ever.  The member libraries of RLG, however, for whatever
    reasons, have unilaterally decided otherwise.  We must respect that
    decision, although with regret.  Clearly, the reasons cited for the
    agreement's rejection by RLG representatives in their press release
    of June 24 were items subject to further negotiations.  But, as Jim
    Michalko put it in his letter to me transmitting the RLG decision:
    "Now we can take this dream off our agenda."  That is truly
    regrettable and certainly not what OCLC intends to do.

    While we have not succeeded in reaching an agreement with the RLG
    libraries on a group basis, we will, nevertheless, continue to work
    with them individually toward the goals of broadening OCLC's
    membership, improving library service to the scholarly community,
    and doing what is best for the library community as a whole.

    OCLC is a nonprofit computer library service and research
organization whose computer network and products link more than 11,000
libraries in 41 countries and territories.

     Marifay Makssour, Editorial Assistant  Internet: mfm [at] rsch__oclc__org
     Online Computer Library Center         Public Relations
     6565 Frantz Rd., Dublin, OH  43017     Phone: (614) 764-6145

                   Conservation DistList Instance 5:8
                   Distributed: Sunday, July 7, 1991
                        Message Id: cdl-5-8-003
Received on Tuesday, 2 July, 1991

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