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Mergers & Acquisitions

Since 1999, OCLC® has engaged in several mergers and acquisitions. The reasons are varied and include preserving member assets, expanding the membership and building presence outside the United States, enhancing current service offerings and reducing the development cost of new service offerings.

Preserving member assets

WLN was a nonprofit organization that provided online cataloging and resource sharing services to libraries in the Pacific Northwest. WLN was not financially viable in the long term and was unprepared for Year 2000, so OCLC was asked to merge with WLN effective 1 January 1999. OCLC preserved the WLN offices as a regional service center in Lacey, Washington, until April 2009. Certain unique services that WLN provided were made available to all OCLC libraries.

NetLibrary, Inc. was a provider of e-books, e-textbooks and Internet-based content/collection management services. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado allowed OCLC to facilitate the continued delivery of e-books and electronic media to libraries in January 2002. OCLC’s purchase preserved the investment of over 6,000 libraries that had acquired e-books from NetLibrary, Inc. OCLC sold the e-textbook service to ProQuest in August 2002. OCLC operated the e-book service and added audiobooks to the offering during the next eight years as the industry matured. NetLibrary did not provide for full cost recovery for OCLC, and therefore OCLC sold the business in March 2010 to EBSCO. The gain on sale effectively covered the losses in running NetLibrary during the past 10 years.

CAPCON: On 12 November 2003, OCLC agreed to acquire the assets and assume the liabilities of CAPCON, a District of Columbia nonprofit corporation that provided training and support for OCLC services to libraries in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. The acquisition stabilized CAPCON’s financial situation while ensuring continued services to libraries. OCLC honored the CAPCON unfunded member deposits, which reduced OCLC’s contribution to equity by $500,000. CAPCON became the OCLC CAPCON Service Center (and later OCLC Eastern), which continued to offer services to more than 300 libraries in the Washington, D.C. area until 2011, when OCLC centralized services to these libraries.

Expanding the membership and building our presence outside the United States

PICA B.V. / OCLC EMEA B.V.: Stichting Pica (Foundation), a nonprofit foundation based in Leiden, the Netherlands, provided online cataloging, interlibrary loans, local library systems, reference and end-user services to libraries in the Netherlands, France and Germany. After Dutch tax authorities deemed certain activities to be taxable and not allowable under the "foundation" status, Stichting Pica approached OCLC. Their activities were similar to OCLC products and services, and the Foundation felt there was a synergy between the two organizations. OCLC was interested in the rich content in Europe for WorldCat® and the opportunity to have more presence in continental Europe. OCLC and the Pica Foundation established a jointly owned organization, Pica B.V. The Foundation owned the National Catalog of Dutch libraries and gave it to OCLC to manage with the proviso that OCLC maintain a copy in an escrow account. OCLC purchased 35% in 1999, 25% in 2000 and the remaining 40% on 1 July 2007, and then renamed the organization OCLC EMEA B.V. The acquisition allowed OCLC to expand its portfolio around a comprehensive set of products and services.

Sisis Informationssysteme GmbH (Sisis): On 1 July 2005, OCLC PICA acquired Sisis, a provider of library management systems and portal software based in Oberhaching, Germany. The OCLC PICA Germany team provides users with improved service and support as well as faster updates and enhancements in local and centralized library systems in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The team also provides development talent to projects at OCLC.

Amlib: Effective 1 July 2008, OCLC EMEA acquired the assets of Amlib, a Web-based library management system developed in Australia and implemented in more than 525 school, public and special libraries primarily in Australia, Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. The acquisition complements the European library management systems that OCLC EMEA already provides to libraries.

Fretwell-Downing Informatics (FDI): On 2 November 2005, OCLC PICA purchased FDI, which provides services and tools for information discovery, library management and knowledge delivery. FDI is based in Sheffield, England, with offices in Australia, the Netherlands and the U.S. The acquisition included management and development talent that is used by OCLC worldwide.

BOND GmbH & Co. KG.: On 18 April 2011, OCLC acquired the assets of German library system provider, BOND GmbH & Co. KG. Based in Böhl-Iggelheim, near Mannheim, BOND is a leading integrated system provider for public libraries in German-speaking countries. BOND services will enhance and expand OCLC services for German libraries, and OCLC plans to maintain and advance the BOND BIBLIOTHECA suite of library system solutions.

Huijsmans en Kuijpers Automatisering BV (HKA): Effective 1 October 2013, OCLC EMEA acquired the shares of HKA, a Dutch organization that develops, implements and manages systems for libraries, educational and cultural organizations. Currently 60 percent of public libraries in the Netherlands make use of the HKA Wise system. The addition of HKA enhances and extends OCLC services for libraries in the Netherlands.

Enhancing current service offerings

LTS: On 29 September 2000, OCLC acquired the Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Library Technical Services (LTS), which provides original and copy cataloging as well as physical processing of materials for libraries. LTS works with our OCLC Canada office to better serve libraries in Canada.

24/7: The 24/7 Reference service of the Metropolitan Cooperative Library System (MCLS), a cooperative located in Los Angeles, California, was combined with OCLC's QuestionPoint® service in August 2004 to create a more powerful suite of virtual reference tools. The combined service enables library users to ask questions and get answers from qualified reference staff in real time on the Internet.

The Research Libraries Group (RLG) and OCLC combined operations on 1 July 2006. RLG was a nonprofit organization of over 150 research libraries, archives, museums and other cultural heritage institutions. OCLC integrated RLG's services in online cataloging, resource sharing and digitization/imaging with OCLC's and eliminated duplicative administrative services. RLG's program initiatives were continued as RLG Programs, a new division of OCLC Programs and Research that combined RLG's successful tradition of identifying issues and building consensus among research institutions with OCLC's research capacities and robust prototyping capabilities. The combined memberships represent a critical mass of libraries, museums, archives and other cultural heritage institutions.

Reducing development costs of new service offerings

PAIS, Public Affairs Information Service, Inc. (a nonprofit organization publishing the PAIS International database) was merged into OCLC effective 1 January 2000. The database had been part of the OCLC FirstSearch® service and was offered that way until OCLC sold the PAIS business in November 2004. OCLC had determined that owning database content was not part of its long-term strategic plan.

Openly Informatics: On 1 January 2006, OCLC acquired Openly Informatics, Inc., which provided linking software and a database of some 1.2 million metadata records with links to electronic resources. Openly had an immediate impact by accelerating our development of the eSerials Holdings™ service, which was launched in July 2006.

DiMeMa, Inc.: On 14 August 2006, OCLC acquired DiMeMa, the organization that developed and supported CONTENTdm® software. CONTENTdm is software that stores, manages and delivers digital collections such as historical documents, photos, newspapers, audio and video on the Web. OCLC had distributed CONTENTdm software since 2002 to libraries, cultural heritage and other nonprofit organizations, which allowed them to manage their digital collections and make them accessible worldwide. The excellent talent of the organization continues their development work in Seattle, Washington.

EZproxy: Effective 11 January 2008, OCLC acquired EZproxy® authentication and access software from Useful Utilities. EZproxy software allows libraries to manage access and authentication configurations through a proxy server so that library users do not have to make any configuration changes to their personal Web browsers.