This is partly true and partly not. Most public libraries subscribe to OCLC
and you can search the database from any computer in the library. Most
research libraries subscribe to both OCLC and RLIN. For people that are
affiliated with a member institution (like a university), one can access
these tools from home via a proxy server.
People may gripe about lack of access in these web-connected days, but it's
not much different than the print days when one needed to head down to the
local library because they owned or subscribed to expensive resources like
the Grove Dictionary of Music or Lexus/Nexus that an individual couldn't
Amazon, GEMM and IMDB are useful tools, but come nowhere near representing
the universe of information found in OCLC and RLIN. OCLC alone has 54
million different titles in its database. GEMM says they have 19 million
CDs and LPs, but the number of unique titles is much lower. I love GEMM
when I want to buy an old John Fahey LP, but it is useless as a research
tool. IMDB has 380,000 titles, while the largest brick-and-mortar bookstore
I know of, Powell's in Portland, has 1M+ titles, which is the size of a
small college or university library. I couldn't find the information, but
Amazon probably has a few million titles at best...
At 01:54 PM 4/7/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>I gather that resources like OCLC and RLIN are available only to members
>and member libraries. Meanwhile, the public has resources like
>Amazon.com, Gemm.com, the Internet Movie Database and others.
>Perhaps these resources will replace libraries. Why go to a library,
>perhaps in a distant city, when you can buy the item, delivered to your
>door, use it without time or use restrictions, then resell it for about
>what you paid for it when you are through with it.