What does the CIA have to do with Cataloguing?

Wow – where does the time go? It is time I wrap up this little story on the naming of the blog.

But first, I digress. What does the CIA have to do with cataloguing? This is wild! Another little gem of useless information. Or is it?

Back during World War II, for those of you old enough or interested in history you will remember we had the Office of Strategic Service (OSS) which later became the CIA. The OSS was feverishly working to create the bomb first. All kinds of scientific research was being conducted and it needed to be organized with bibliographic control. And it needed to be mechanized to keep up with the pace and to allow for greater access. Then, when we started winning the war, we began collecting German intel which then needed to be organized quickly so that we could use the information we gathered. Enter one Frederick Kilgour. He headed the distribution of this information for the OSS.

What became of Mr. Kilgour? He later went on to create the catalog of all catalogs – OCLC or less commonly known as the Online Computer Library Center. Need to find a book anywhere in the world? OCLC is your answer. The user interface is called WorldCat. Heard of that one? No? Go check it out. It is a lot of fun. And it is free! Find the book in a local library or where to buy.


Okay – I’m going to make you wait on the 91rules reason. Not quite as interesting as the CIA. But what is?

I leave you with this thought:
Perhaps the organization of information – CIA and catalogs – are not all that dissimilar. Scary thought: national security and libraries.

Source of this priceless little gem? Taylor and Joudrey. (2009). The Organization of Information, 3rd ed. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.


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