In 1979 Cleveland Public Library Director Dr. Ervin Gaines and staff began an automation project with Data Research Associates (DRA). The system they envisioned would be capable of expanding the number of programs it could manage, deliver information simultaneously to a large number of terminals quickly and efficiently, and have maximum data storage capacity.
The first tasks to be automated with the new DRA system included the card catalog, circulation procedures, serial and periodical records, and an index to Cleveland newspapers. Our catalog was partially online in July of 1980, and by December of that year, it was fully online and the new circulation system was working in every Library agency.
The following year, Dr. Gaines predicted that our independent database would attract other Cleveland area libraries to be a part of a regional bibliographic database. Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library became the first area library to engage in a collaborative dialogue. In six months an agreement was signed and by the end of 1982, Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library went live, launching the CLEVNET consortium. Today, under the leadership of Director Felton Thomas, Cleveland Public Library has 44 CLEVNET partners, making it one of the largest public library systems in the world that offers innovative online community and reference services.