Statewide Database Licensing Project - Fall 2000 Trials

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(Note from the Washington State Library:  In order to participate in the Fall 2000 Washington State Databases Trial, each vendor was asked to address questions the Statewide Database Licensing Committee felt were most critical in order for library staff to evaluate products and vendors.  Please contact the vendor's representative, listed below, for additional information on this product.)

1. Describe the database product(s). Include information on subject scope, percentage of full-text, dates of coverage, target audience (including age ranges), and how often the contents are updated.


The OCLC FirstSearch service is a rich collection of more than 80 databases from a wide range of database vendors. It includes links to World Wide Web resources, over 5.9 million online full text articles, full-image articles from over 2, 800 electronic journals, library holdings, and interlibrary loan. It supports research in a wide range of subject areas with well-known bibliographic and full-text databases, in addition to reference tools such as directories, almanacs and encyclopedias.  The OCLC FirstSearch service:

FirstSearch was designed specifically for end users.  Its user-friendly interface and context-specific online help screens allow users to conduct searches on their own, requiring little or no intervention by library staff. No special computer knowledge or online searching training is necessary. Users point and click their way through FirstSearch to find the information they need.  

Libraries can add their logo to the OCLC FirstSearch service using the administrative module, IP-address recognition, or WebScript automatic logon scripting.  The logo appears throughout each FirstSearch session at the bottom of the menu in the left panel of FirstSearch screens. 

Recent FirstSearch enhancements include:

Some of FirstSearch's features that make it easy to implement and use include:

FirstSearch offers many unique benefits to libraries and their users.  It:

The OCLC FirstSearch service also offers a link to the OCLC Interlibrary Loan service to streamline borrowing of articles and materials from more than 6,700 libraries worldwide.  In addition, a number of document-delivery suppliers have matched the list of materials they can supply against many of the FirstSearch databases.  The link allows users to generate OCLC ILL requests for materials cited in FirstSearch databases. The request may appear in the library’s ILL review file, and the librarian may then route the material to the appropriate supplier.  Alternatively, the library may choose to have the ILL requests sent directly to the OCLC ILL service by the users.

OCLC is providing trial access for all OCLC FirstSearch databases, with the exception of PsycINFO and CA Student Edition.  Please see the attached document that lists the proposed FirstSearch databases and their features. 

2. What are the hardware and software requirements for using all the features of the product?

Users may access the range of FirstSearch resources through a common Web-based interface, a text-only interface using a Lynx browser, or through a Z39.50 connection. FirstSearch performs fully with Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer (versions 4.0 and higher) with JavaScript enabled.  All critical functionality is available and usable for users of versions 3.0 (or later) of these browsers, although users may see some differences in screen formatting.  Access to the FirstSearch Administrative Module requires version 4.0 or higher browsers with JavaScript enabled.

3. Is remote access included for the subscription price?  If there are additional charges or requirements in order to offer remote access, please describe.   What methods of remote access are supported?

There is no additional fee for remote access to FirstSearch. Users can access FirstSearch from workstations in the library, from workstations in buildings on the same telecommunications network as the library, or from the home or office of the library's authorized users. Methods of remote access supported are IP Address Recognition and automatic logon via the OCLC WebScript CGI application.  IP address recognition requires submission of authorized IP addresses to OCLC and is not available for those accessing FirstSearch via Lynx or Z39.50.  WebScript allows users to click links on the institution’s Web pages to go directly to a page within FirstSearch, bypassing the logon screen.

4. Please discuss any methods or assistance you offer regarding remote access patron verification and authentication.

FirstSearch provides several authentication methods, and OCLC will work with participating libraries to determine the best FirstSearch authentication process for each.  With FirstSearch, libraries can manage authentication using (1) authorization/password, (2) IP address recognition, and (3) CGI WebScript. 


Each library accessing FirstSearch will receive one or more authorizations and passwords.  When a consortium purchases FirstSearch, OCLC assigns each library one or more authorization and password combinations to access FirstSearch.  The library may change the password associated with the authorization at any time using the FirstSearch Administrative Module. 

 IP Address Recognition

OCLC offers basic IP-address recognition for logon authentication to FirstSearch.  This service allows for very specific to very general IP addresses.  The participating libraries will be asked to provide a list of the IP numbers for each institution, and OCLC staff will implement the access.  Instructions for IP address recognition are available on OCLC's Web page at

CGI WebScript (Scripting Logons)

The OCLC WebScript CGI application is copyrighted freeware, distributed free of charge, and subject to license terms and conditions.  With the scripts, FirstSearch appears as a menu item on the library's Web page. Using the WebScript CGI application, libraries can set up FirstSearch so that users will not be required to type in an authorization and password to gain FirstSearch access.  Since the library controls access to the library's Web page and/or links, library staff can limit FirstSearch access to authorized users.

5. What end user delivery options, such as printing, emailing or faxing results, are available beyond just viewing results on the computer monitor?

FirstSearch allows users to mark up to 100 records at a time for printing, downloading, and e-mailing. If the library has enabled the FirstSearch/ILL link, end users can request items through interlibrary loan.

6. What customer training is provided, and at what cost?  

FirstSearch provides online help. It is context-sensitive and can be accessed from anywhere in the system.  With FirstSearch, online help is a comprehensive “how to” manual for users. FirstSearch’s Online Help integrates system-wide and database-specific topics and is enhanced to assist users according to the search mode they are using (Basic, Advanced, Expert).  It includes on-screen, pop-up Help displays for many components of the service, including database descriptions and search features.

Help screens topics available through FirstSearch’s general help are listed in the following table:


Get an item



History, search

Redo search

Advanced searching

Hours of availability

Related subjects


Interlibrary Loan


Boolean operators

Introducing FirstSearch

Search history

Browse Index

Libraries with item

Search results

Combining search words

Licensing information

Search screens

Copyright of Help

Limit a search

Select a database

Database areas

Limit by subject


Database producers


Tag records


Ordering documents

Terms of use

Database topics


Title lists

Document suppliers



Exit FirstSearch

Previous searches


Full text



In addition, each of the databases on FirstSearch has its own help screens, covering the following topics:

A Web-based tutorial is available, as is Web-based documentation such as How to Do a Search Using OCLC FirstSearch, Using OCLC FirstSearch, Using OCLC FirstSearch with a Lynx Browser, and the FirstSearch Databases Notebook. The Web-based documentation can be easily printed from the screen, and libraries can order additional copies of most items from OCLC at no charge.

7. What customer and technical support is provided, including hours of operation.

The first line of support for library staff is OCLC User & Network Support (UNS).  UNS may be contacted using the toll-free number 800-848-5800, the local number 614-793-8682, and via e-mail at  The UNS help desk is staffed from 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time, Monday through Friday, and 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Saturdays. The UNS telephone system allows you to leave a message for a prompt return call.  Library staff and end users may also access the Support and User Documentation service on OCLC’s Web site:

Additional support is available Monday through Friday through the OCLC Pacific office at 800-854-5753 from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Pacific Time and from the OCLC/WLN offices at 800-638-9956 or 360-923-4000 from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Pacific Time, and via e-mail at

8. Describe the statistics you provide, and discuss whether your statistical reporting complies with guidelines developed by the International Coalition of Library Consortia which may be found at .

OCLC provides the following statistical reports for the FirstSearch service:

FirstSearch Usage Reports

OCLC tracks FirstSearch usage statistics and provides access to monthly usage reports via the Web.  Libraries can obtain these reports at anytime from the Web (  Libraries are provided with the last month's usage as well as the past 24 months of usage for a rolling 25 months of usage history.  Session-level reports are available for viewing on the Web on the same 25-month, rolling schedule.  Overview reports include 6 months of data.

Session-level reports include: 

Overview reports.  

These reports provide data on system use such as:

Database summary reports.  

These reports provide data on system usage at the database level: 

Some of the information available from the online statistics includes:

Consortium Overview

This report shows the total number of authorizations the consortium has assigned, the number of times users logged on, and the total number of searches conducted and the total number of full-text documents ordered over a one-month period. 

Institution Overview

This report shows the maximum number of logons used, the average number of logons used and the total number of searches conducted over a one-month period.  It also shows the total number of users who logged on FirstSearch over a one-month period. 

Institution Activity

This report shows the number of times users logged in by database, the total number of searches conducted in each database and the percentage of searches conducted in each database.  It also shows the average number of users logged into a particular database as well as the maximum number logged into a particular database at one time.

Full-Text Activity

This report shows, by database and as a total, the number of ASCII full-text documents that users viewed, e-mailed or printed over a one-month period.

OCLC at present is in partial compliance with the ICOLC guidelines.  We in the process of making appropriate changes to our statistical reports to become fully compliant. 

9. Describe your pricing structure or formula for the product. If there are additional costs for retrieving full text, describe the pricing for this service.

OCLC offers three FirstSearch purchase options to help you fill your users' online reference needs:

Subscription Pricing

OCLC offers several subscription packages as well as subscription access to most FirstSearch databases.   Subscription pricing provides you with the security of fixed prices for unlimited searching of selected databases. With this, libraries choose the databases that best fit their needs.

FirstSearch Subscription Packages

In addition to individual database subscriptions, the following describes packages of FirstSearch databases that meet specific online reference searching needs. Libraries may choose from: 

The FirstSearch Base Package. A valuable collection of resources for libraries of all types. Includes:

The FirstSearch Base Package with H.W. Wilson Select Plus with Full Text. The value of the Base Package enhanced with high-quality full text at an affordable price. Includes:

The FirstSearch General Reference Collection. The world's libraries at your fingertips--plus the quick reference and online full text that users demand. Includes:

The OCLC Collection. Essential OCLC databases at an affordable price. Includes:

Consortial Purchases

More than 60 libraries in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho participate in, and share the cost of, a consortial (the Pacific Northwest FirstSearch Consortium) purchase of 109 simultaneous users to the OCLC Base Package of 12 databases, including OCLC WorldCat.  Libraries in these states may join this consortium for access to FirstSearch databases. Under the current agreed-upon allocation of costs, the two biggest libraries, B and E listed below, would pay for 1 simultaneous user each, the others 1/2 simultaneous user each, based on the assumption that 1/2 is as small as the group currently subdivides a simultaneous user.   In reality, the group coordinator could subdivide it further for C, D, and F, provided that the sum of the simultaneous users added up to a whole number.  After the first year, a library's portion of the costs will be based on actual use.  The group has no experience with high school libraries, so the 1/2 simultaneous user is an arbitrary estimate. For the public libraries, pricing would depend upon whether they were offering public access and remote public access. 

a. Library A: A high school library with 750 students in grades 9-12 (1/2 Port=$1,851)

b. Library B: A public library that serves a population of 100,000 and has two branches

(1 PORT=$3,701)

c. Library C: A public library that serves a population of 20,000 and has only one building, no branches (1/2 Port=$1,851)

d. Library D: A community college library serving 5,000 full-time equivalent students

(1/2 Port=$1,851)

e. Library E: A four-year academic library serving 5,000 full-time equivalent students

(1 PORT=$3,701)

f. Library F: A hospital library serving a hospital that employs 1,000 staff plus has 200 doctors attached to the hospital (1/2 Port=$1,851)

Optional Databases

Whether or not you choose a subscription package, you can purchase individual subscription access to one, some, or all of the other eligible FirstSearch databases.  In the Pacific Northwest FirstSearch Consortium, OCLC secures custom pricing for subgroups of libraries interested in optional FirstSearch databases.

Per-Search Pricing

With per-search pricing, you pay by the search and purchase blocks of 500 searches in advance. Per-search pricing provides virtually unlimited simultaneous logon access to more than 60 databases.

What counts as a search? A search is counted when you send a search word or phrase to FirstSearch and receive at least one record (e.g., "baseball and umpires" is one search). As an example, when you purchase 10,000 searches, you make it possible for you and your users to perform that number of searches in FirstSearch.

Valid for two years from the date of purchase. The searches you buy under the open per-search pricing option are valid for two years from the date of purchase. After two years, unused searches expire unless you make a subsequent FirstSearch purchase under any per-search or subscription option during that period. If you make an additional purchase, the expiration dates of all searches purchased under the open per-search pricing option are adjusted to expire two years after your latest purchase.

Members receive a discount. OCLC members receive a discount on the per-search pricing option. OCLC members are libraries that do all of their current cataloging online with OCLC or via batchload. Member libraries agree to use existing records in WorldCat (the OCLC Online Union Catalog), to catalog materials and to input original cataloging records when there are no corresponding records in the database.

Mixing Subscription and Per-Search Pricing

FirstSearch also allows you to mix:

Subscription pricing for access to one or more databases and per-search pricing for access to other databases under the same authorization.  Simply choose your subscription databases. When you purchase search blocks to be used under the same authorization, you can access the rest of the eligible non-subscription databases on a per-search basis.

Pricing for ASCII Full Text

Some FirstSearch databases offer the full text of articles online. Online full text is available under per-search, monthly billing, and subscription pricing options for articles ordered from a variety of bibliographic indexes. A single authorization can allow a combination of per-search payment, monthly billing, or subscription payment as an option for ASCII full-text document ordering.

Per-search payment for ASCII full text cannot be combined with certain subscription pricing options.

Per-Article Payment/Billing Options

Each time a user enters ASCII full-text mode to view a document under the monthly billing option, the user is charged for one document. Documents can be e-mailed from the screen at no additional charge. Documents that are e-mailed but not viewed on the screen also incur a per-document charge.

Subscription Option

Libraries can pay a subscription fee for unlimited retrieval of full-text documents from one or more ASCII databases.

10.  If a library subscribes to any of your products as a result of this trial, will their future subscription rates continue to reflect any savings or discount they may receive today?

OCLC FirstSearch pricing reflects two discounts: the OCLC Base Package discount and the OCLC member discount. The Pacific Northwest FirstSearch Consortium purchases the OCLC Base Package as its core collection. Subgroups and individual libraries then add subscription databases of interest to them and per-search blocks for access to less heavily used databases.

Libraries that choose to purchase FirstSearch through participation in the Pacific Northwest FirstSearch Consortium will receive the OCLC Base Package discount for as long as the group continues to purchase the OCLC Base Package as its core collection. They also will receive the OCLC member discount if they are an OCLC member. OCLC has no plans to change this price structure.

11. What is the minimum participation level (however you care to define it) that would be needed to allow participating libraries to receive a discount? What is the minimum discount for a group buy? Please clarify how you would treat existing library customers with regard to a group buy.

Libraries typically begin enjoying discounts when at least three libraries participate in a group. With regard to a group purchase, existing FirstSearch subscribers with access to the same database(s) would be credited for the unused portion of their current database subscriptions.

12.  Please indicate whether libraries from Oregon, Idaho, Alaska and/or Hawaii would be eligible to participate in the group buying process.

Yes, libraries from Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and/or Hawaii will be eligible to participate in the group-buying process.

13.  Please provide name and contact information should libraries wish to make further inquires.

All inquiries may be directed to:
Mr. Paul Cappuzzello
OCLC Senior Library Services Consultant
800-848-5878 ext. 6258
e-mail at 
5:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., PST, Monday -Friday.