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OCLC publishes list of top 100 novels

DUBLIN, Ohio, 5 March 2019—OCLC, a leading library technology and research organization, has published The Library 100: Top Novels of All Time, a list of the novels most widely available in libraries today. The list is based on data in WorldCat, the world’s most comprehensive database of information about library collections.

Produced and maintained by OCLC and individual member libraries and library organizations, WorldCat reflects the collections of more than 18,000 libraries worldwide. It includes information about more than 2.7 billion copies of more than 447 million titles. This aggregate worldwide library collection is likely the best view of the global scholarly and published record.

“Libraries provide a unique opportunity to track long-term trends in published literature,” said Skip Prichard, OCLC President and CEO. “WorldCat is a unique resource that can tell us more about publishing patterns and, by extension, cultural patterns.”

According to WorldCat, “Don Quixote,” by Miguel de Cervantes, is the most widely held novel in libraries worldwide. “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,” by Lewis Carroll is second, followed by “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” both by Mark Twain. “Treasure Island,” by Robert Louis Stevenson, takes the fifth spot.

“Of course, the list of top novels emphasizes classics,” Prichard continued, “and so reflects dominant cultural views over the years about the canon and its formation. Librarians are aware of this and are more mindful than ever of the need to think critically about their collections. Librarians are actively seeking out and preserving overlooked, minority and marginalized perspectives.” (Read Prichard’s blog post at https://oc.lc/top-novel-blog.)

“These classic novels are published in multiple versions, translated, retold for younger readers and widely distributed in core collections,” noted Lorcan Dempsey, OCLC Vice President of Membership and Research. “We cluster these algorithmically, sometimes pulling together hundreds of different versions and editions.”

“The top novels list is an example of what is possible when we study aggregate library data,” Dempsey added. “We have also done other work, notably looking at the characteristics of the national published record in several individual countries. This aggregate collection can help us track both presences and absences across the library system, and help libraries take a more critical look at collections. At OCLC, we will be examining aspects of these topics in more depth.”

The full list, and more information about The Library 100 can be found at www.oclc.org/en/worldcat/library100.html.

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