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Re: F. Kilgour in CHE

Fred Kilgour did indeed make a very valuable contribution to services to library users, and I can provide one small example from my knowledge of this great man. In 1979 or 1980, when Librarian of the University of Essex, I invited Fred to talk to us at Essex about the possibility of joining the OCLC cataloguing service. I expected Fred to say that we would have to adopt US-style catalogue cards, but Fred agreed to set up a special production run at OCLC to maintain the Essex sheaf catalogue. A cynic might say that it was the price Fred was willing to pay to get a UK customer, but I knew from talking to Fred that he was genuine in his wish to help librarians and library users to adapt to automated cataloguing procedures by retaining what was familiar to them. Essex and Newcastle were the first UK universities to join OCLC, even though in the early days we could not start cataloguing until 3 p.m. UK time, when the US service started.

Fred Friend
JISC Scholarly Communication Consultant
Honorary Director Scholarly Communication UCL
E-mail ucylfjf@ucl.ac.uk

----- Original Message -----
From: "James J. O'Donnell" <jod@georgetown.edu>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, August 02, 2006 10:55 PM
Subject: F. Kilgour in CHE

Frederick G. Kilgour, Developer of Popular Electronic Library Catalog,


If you have gone into a library and found it easy to look up books in the
catalog, or even to find out what a library in another town has on its
shelves, you owe a debt of gratitude to Frederick G. Kilgour. Mr. Kilgour,
who founded the library-network organization that became OCLC Online
Computer Library Center, died on Monday. He was 92.

Mr. Kilgour's work at OCLC included the development of WorldCat, a catalog
that now comprises about 70 million items and is used by libraries in
countries around the world. When WorldCat was being developed in the early
1970s, most libraries relied on card catalogs. WorldCat allowed libraries
to share bibliographic entries, thus eliminating the tedious and costly
efforts of each library typing up records for each of its books. WorldCat
also allowed libraries to establish links between collections, making
interlibrary loans easier.

Before moving to Ohio to run OCLC in 1967, Mr. Kilgour had been the head
librarian of the Yale medical library. In 1961, he helped establish a
prototype computerized library catalog system for medical libraries at
Columbia University, Harvard University, and Yale.

"He is certainly a giant of his time," said Duane E. Webster, executive
director of the Association of Research Libraries, adding that Mr. Kilgour
had taken OCLC from a local organization to "the bibliographic data center
of the world."

"He did this at a time when everyone looked to the Library of Congress to
create, manage, provide, and support all of those services that OCLC has
eventually taken over," Mr. Webster said. "It's hard to imagine the scope
of his vision unless you came through this period when everybody assumed
that our challenge was to get Congress to put more money into the Library
of Congress to solve these problems and deliver services. He said it's
foolish to keep knocking our heads against that wall -- let's create a
partnership amongst ourselves."

Mr. Kilgour "moved libraries into networking well before the Internet,"
Mr. Webster said.

Michael Gorman, the dean of library services at California State
University at Fresno and the immediate past president of the American
Library Association, said Mr. Kilgour was "the godfather" of library

"You cannot overstate his impact on library automation, on cooperation
between libraries, on the prevalence of online catalogs, and so on," Mr.
Gorman said. "I reviewed his collected papers once, and I was really
struck by the remarkable scope of his knowledge."

Mr. Kilgour was involved with librarianship until very recently, having
been a professor of library and information science at the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill until 2004.