by Darius Kazemi, October 13 2019

In 2019 I'm reading one RFC a day in chronological order starting from the very first one. More on this project here. There is a table of contents for all my RFC posts.

Network all the libraries

RFC-286 is titled “Network Library Information System”. It's authored by Ernest Forman of MITRE, and dated December 21, 1971.

The technical content

Georgetown University is building a digital catalog for their holdings, and the author floats the possibility of making this catalog searchable on the ARPANET.

He also suggests designing a general system to query all libraries everywhere that he calls the “Network Library Information System”. He asks interested parties to contact him.


This is........ not a small task. To get a sense of how difficult this problem is (and I imagine that Forman, not being a library scientist, had little idea of the true difficulty), you can read about this history of the library catalog in American Libraries Magazine.

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About me

I'm Darius Kazemi. I'm an independent technologist and artist. I do a lot of work on the decentralized web with ActivityPub, including a Node.js reference implementation, an RSS-to-ActivityPub converter, and a fork of Mastodon, called Hometown. You can support my work via my Patreon.