History of the OCLC Research Library Partnership

Here is a brief overview of the history of the OCLC Research Library Partnership, beginning with the creation of RLG through the union with OCLC.

1974: RLG is founded by three universities—Columbia, Harvard, and Yale—and The New York Public Library, a move The New York Times calls "a sweeping and controversial program of combined operations."

1975: RLG incorporates as a not-for-profit membership organization.

1978: RLG moves its offices to Stanford University. It adopts Stanford Library's BALLOTS computerized processing system, which will later become the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN®).

1980: While expanding its membership to include key university research libraries across the country, RLG builds a unique shared cataloging database: the RLIN Union Catalog.

With the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, RLG creates SCIPIO, a shared database of art sales catalogs.

1982: RLG introduces the British Library's Eighteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue as a special database.

1983: RLG embarks upon several decade-long projects to preserve members' "Great Collections" on microfilm. Preservation microform information is included in online records for the first time.

RLG adds Chinese, Japanese, and Korean scripts to RLIN.

1986: RLG adds Cyrillic to RLIN.

1987: RLG establishes an RLIN help desk for customers.

1988: RLG moves to Mountain View, California.

1989: RLG welcomes its 100th member.

1990: RLG begins a decade-long series of member symposia focusing on the challenge of managing nonprint and electronic materials.

1991: RLG introduces Ariel®, document transmission software for use in interlibrary lending transactions.

The organization simplifies and broadens its membership structure and establishes a member-elected board of directors.

1992: RLG welcomes its first member outside North America: the British Library.

RLG adds Arabic to RLIN.

RLG introduces article-level access to journals and conference proceedings with the CitaDel® citation databases.

1993: To make its information sources more accessible to non-librarians, RLG introduces the easy-to-use search system Eureka®.

1994: RLG awarded the Society of American Archivists' Distinguished Service Award.

1995: RLG celebrates its 20th anniversary with a two-day symposium at Harvard University called "Scholarship in the New Information Environment."

1996: RLG opens its once-private network, allowing anyone in the world with Internet access to take advantage of RLG's services.

RLG opens a satellite office in the United Kingdom.

1997: RLG and Cornell University launch RLG DigiNews, an electronic news magazine focusing on preservation and digital technology.

1998: RLG introduces unique online access to the holdings of archival collections: RLG Archival Resources.

1999: RLG enters the world of electronic images by becoming the first distributor of the Art Museum Image Consortium's AMICO Library TM .

2000: RLG introduces ILL Manager, a freestanding, easy-to-use software system that manages all interlibrary loan transactions.

With membership at 162, RLG celebrates its 25th anniversary at The New York Public Library with a symposium titled "Fast Forward: Trends that Affect Our Future."

2001: RLG receives support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create a wholly new information resource—the RLG Union Catalog on the Web—called RedLightGreen.

RLG launches two more electronic newsletters, for the broad IT community: ShelfLife, a weekly; and NewsScan, a daily.

2002: RLG opens a second satellite office in New York City.

RLG launches RLG Cultural Materials, the culmination of several years of collaborative work by members.

2003: Members lead the migration of interlending to the next-generation, peer-to-peer model, by moving the SHARES partnership entirely to standards-based peer-to-peer ILL systems—like ILL Manager. RLG retires the RLIN ILL legacy system.

RLG launches the RedLightGreen Web site in a pilot phase, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provides renewed support for further development.

The organization moves to new open-office headquarters at Stierlin Court in Mountain View.

2004: RLG launches Trove.net™, a spinoff from RLG Cultural Materials. Accessible to the public, the site makes over 248,000 images available for commercial and individual licensing.

RLG overhauls its membership format, scrapping the two tiers of "special" and "general" members. In the new plan, dues are tied to the size of the organization's operating budget, with a single membership category.

2005: RLG and OCLC jointly publish the Data Dictionary for Preservation Metadata: Final Report of the PREMIS Working Group.

RLG completes conversion of RLG databases from a mainframe system to an open systems server environment.

2006: RLG launches ArchiveGrid SM —an innovative access service for archival and special collections, replacing RLG Archival Resources.

RLG and OCLC announce the passage of an RLG membership vote to approve the combination of the two organizations. On 1 July 2006, RLG Programs is formed and becomes part of the OCLC Programs and Research division.

2009: OCLC Programs and Research consolidate further under the name of OCLC Research, and RLG Programs becomes known as the RLG Partnership. The OCLC Research division now consists of a unified staff of research scientist and program officers; our research scientists are devoted to understanding the challenges facing libraries, archives and museums in a rapidly changing, digital environment, and our program officers are dedicated to coordinating the collective efforts of and achieving success of the RLG Partnership. The RLG Partnership is funded in part through annual partner affiliation dues and is overseen by the RLG Partnership Council, and the RLG Committee of the OCLC Board of Trustees.

2011: The OCLC Research Library Partnership replaces the RLG Partnership. The five-year period of successfully integrating the RLG Partnership into OCLC is completed 30 June 2011. The resulting venue enables affiliated institutions to engage in an impressively wide and important array of initiatives to collectively identify, analyze, prioritize and design scalable solutions to shared information challenges. Because of this, OCLC renews its commitment to the research library community and increases its investment in the OCLC Research Library Partnership. This enables a significant reduction in the annual Partnership dues, which, in turn, enables a greater range of institutions to participate in the Partnership.

See our highlights page for reports about our progress from June 2006 through June 2010.

We are a worldwide library cooperative, owned, governed and sustained by members since 1967. Our public purpose is a statement of commitment to each other—that we will work together to improve access to the information held in libraries around the globe, and find ways to reduce costs for libraries through collaboration.