Melvyl Through Time

1977The University of California Libraries: A Plan for Development 1978-1988 (known as the Salmon Plan after Stephen Salmon, Executive Director of Universitywide Library Planning).

“As students and faculty come to rely more and more on materials not held in their own collections, there must be adequate means of knowing about these materials and where they are located.”

“The best alternative appears to be one which has been recommended by committees at both UC Berkeley at UCLA, and by staff members at the Universitywide Library Automation Program (ULAP) who have been studying its feasibility for some months: an on-line, computerized union catalog. Under this alternative, users will consult terminals connected directly to a large, machine-readable database of information on the University’s holdings.”

Credit: Mary Engle
1981 – Prototype of the telnet version of Melvyl becomes available to the public. Telnet is a common network protocol used on the Internet, invented in 1969.

According to Stephen Salmon: The name “MELVYL”, by the way, was an inside joke. In the initial version of the system, we used ORVYL and WYLBUR, the time-sharing software developed at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). So I used the same naming convention(changing an “i” to a “y”) and named our system after Melvil Dewey, the most well-known innovator in library science.”

Credit: UC Berkeley Library
1983 – Melvyl (telnet) goes into full production and new  records are now added to Melvyl. To search telnet Melvyl, users typed text commands; for example:

F tw solitude hundred

would retrieve the catalog record for the book One Hundred Years of Solitude

Credit: Internet Archive
1997 – The first World Wide Web version of Melvyl was available to the public. Libraries across the system started replacing their old terminals with public access computers.

Credit: Internet Archive
2003 – The original web version of Melvyl retired and was replaced by the Aleph system from Ex Libris Group, a company that develops library software.

Credit: UC Davis Library
2007 – The command line version of the Melvyl Library Catalog, accessible through telnet retires.

Credit: California Digital Library
2009 – Next Generation Melvyl debuts, supported by WorldCat Discovery. “With Next-Generation Melvyl you can search UC’s books, serials, archives, and media- eventually, everything you’re used to getting from Melvyl.”
“In addition, there are more than 80 million records with resources available in hundreds of languages.”
2017 – UC Librarians recognize the need for a more unified system that will seamlessly integrate the library collections at all ten UC campuses and the two regional repositories, making searching for library resources and materials far easier. Planning begins for a Systemwide Integrated Library System (SILS).
July 27, 2021 – After a four-year planning and building process, the new system, called UC Library Search, is implemented. UC Library Search goes live, and Melvyl retires permanently.

Special thanks to:  Ellen Meltzer, Felicia Poe, Jayne Dickson, Mary Engle.