OCLC NetFirst to improve end-user access to Internet resources

DUBLIN, Ohio, April 7, 1995--OCLC will produce NetFirst, a comprehensive database of Internet-accessible resources that will be a practical, easy-to-use tool for Internet exploration and discovery.

OCLC plans to distribute the NetFirst database via its online reference services, FirstSearch and EPIC, and through other online outlets and channels.

OCLC, the world's leading provider of online bibliographic services to libraries, will create the database using a combination of automated collection and verification techniques and conventional abstracting and indexing practices.

The NetFirst database will contain bibliographic citations, complete with summary descriptions and subject headings, describing resources including World Wide Web pages, interest groups, library catalogs, FTP sites, Internet services, Gopher servers, electronic journals, and newsletters. Records will also contain location information that can be used to connect users to resources of interest.

"NetFirst will make it easy to find information on the Internet," said Rick Noble, vice president, OCLC Reference Services. "The Internet is a very rich but unorganized and uncharted resource. NetFirst will be a continuously updated map to guide the Internet explorer."

OCLC will build an initial file of approximately 50,000 records for NetFirst, which will be introduced in the summer of 1995. The database is then expected to grow by 10,000 to 15,000 records each month.

Eventually, NetFirst record production will be integrated with the large-scale, cooperative Internet cataloging project being organized by the OCLC Library Resources Management Division and Office of Research. To date, more than 100 libraries have agreed to participate in the coordinated effort to create a searchable database of standardized bibliographic records for Internet-accessible materials, with electronic location and access information attached.

The FirstSearch service is designed for library patrons, with an end-user interface that allows patrons to move easily through the online search process in just a few simple steps, without training or online searching experience.

EPIC, a full-featured online reference system that provides subject access, and keyword and Boolean searching to a variety of databases, is used mostly by librarians and experienced searchers.

OCLC is a nonprofit computer library service and research organization whose computer network and services link more than 20,000 libraries in 61 countries and territories. The OCLC Online Union Catalog (OLUC) has been available to libraries via the OCLC Online System since 1971. This database is essentially a merged, electronic catalog of the bibliographic and holdings information of thousands of libraries. The database contains more than 32 million records and is growing by approximately 2 million records each year. The records describe books, journals, audiovisual media, maps, archives/manuscripts, sound recordings, music scores, and computer files. A typical record contains a physical description of an item and information about its intellectual content. Also attached to each record in the OLUC is a list of member libraries that hold the item, arranged alphabetically by state or country. The 32 million records in the OLUC have more than 500 million location listings attached to them.