HEA: The Impact of Scholarly Stewardship 50 Years Later

By Kevin Cretsos

At the cornerstone of colleges and universities, academic libraries strive to serve their institutions in promoting higher education with access to scholarly resources. At University of Dayton Libraries, we align our mission and vision with these principles:

Our Mission:
The University Libraries provide excellent research and scholarly collections, quality service, integrated curricular support and dynamic learning environments – all vital to the mission of a Catholic and Marianist University.

Our Vision:
The University Libraries will:
• Advance the creation, preservation and pursuit of knowledge, fostering lifelong learning and excellent scholarship;
• Excel in providing global access to unique collections that inspire commitment to the Catholic and Marianist tradition;
• Model outstanding service and stewardship.

In many ways, the work that we do would not be possible without funding to support curricular development. On November 8th, 1965, a key piece of legislation was signed into United States law that would revitalize higher education for colleges and universities, and this was known as the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA).

The HEA provided federal funding to universities in numerous ways, such as through grants, scholarships, and loans. But one specific part of the bill was designed to support the Library of Congress in establishing protocols for cataloging and sharing bibliographic records of scholarly resources between academic libraries, both nationally and internationally. This led to the initiative of establishing standardized guidelines for creating and distributing machine-readable cataloging data, known as MARC, which is still used today in shared catalog data.

The collaboration between libraries became more of a growing trend over the years. We see this with the formation of OCLC (Ohio College Library Center) in 1967 with the vision of creating a computer system that could help academic libraries share their catalogs electronically with one another. The goal was to create a central database where member libraries could contribute catalog records of their own unique collections. This would allow future libraries to copy the records that they needed and reduce inefficiencies in catalog management. As the technology improved and more libraries joined, OCLC expanded internationally and became the Online Computer Library Center. Ultimately, through the implementation of the HEA and the creation of OCLC and the worldwide catalog, libraries have become better suited to catalog collaboratively and promote access more effectively.

For more information about the Higher Education Act and the impact on libraries read Audrey Fischer's article titled "The Legacy of Shared Cataloging" in the Library of Congress Magazine, Jan/Feb 2016 (page 8)

- Kevin Cretsos, Catalog Management Assistant

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