OhioLINK, a cooperative venture of university libraries and the Ohio Department of Higher Education, grew out of a 1987 recommendation by the board’s library committee that "the state of Ohio implement, as expeditiously as possible, a statewide electronic catalog system."
In response to this recommendation, the board established a steering committee representing librarians, faculty, administrators and computer systems managers from campuses throughout Ohio. After meetings, public hearings, and conferences, the committee prepared and distributed a planning paper (November 1988); a Request for Information (February 1989); and a Request for Proposal (August 1989) to initiate a statewide electronic system.
In 1990, OhioLINK selected Innovative Interfaces, Inc. to develop the unique software system to create the OhioLINK Library Catalog and selected Digital Equipment Corporation for the computer hardware base. OhioLINK licensed four databases from formerly University Microfilms International (UMI), now ProQuest for citations to millions of business, newspaper and periodical articles and to academic dissertations. These elements formed the foundation of the growing OhioLINK system of services. In 1992, six universities installed OhioLINK systems and began the ongoing process of building the central catalog. In February 1996, OhioLINK began offering services through the World Wide Web.
OhioLINK is part of Ohio’s ongoing tradition in pioneering library automation. The Ohio State University and others in Ohio began integrating campus library systems at an early date. In the 1960s, state funds supported the development of OCLC, then called the Ohio College Library Center. OCLC has since grown into an international organization with a database of 30 million entries representing materials held in more than 10,000 libraries.
In 2013, OhioLINK was brought under the umbrella of the Ohio Technology Consortium. OH-TECH provides administrative support to Ohio’s statewide technology infrastructure, which includes OhioLINK, the Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet), the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), eStudent Services and the newly established Research and Innovation Center. Funded by the Ohio General Assembly through the Ohio Department of Higher Education, OH-TECH reports to the Chancellor of the Department of Higher Education.
In 2017, eStudent Services’ two flagship programs, eTutoring and OhioLearns came under OhioLINK. eStudent Services was originally a division of the Ohio Learning Network whose mission was to support Ohio’s higher education students through technology. After the incorporation of the Ohio Learning Network into the Ohio Department of Higher Education in 2011, eStudent Services became a division within OH-TECH. OhioLINK maintains its two core programs, eTutoring and OhioLearns. The eTutoring program has provided online tutoring for Ohio’s college students in many different subject areas as well as writing across the curriculum since 2009. OhioLearns, created in 1999, is an online catalog of the 100% online courses and degrees offered by Ohio’s colleges and universities. As part of OhioLINK, OhioLearns and eTutoring are perfectly situated to continue to support students through technology, increase access to higher education, and to help meet the state’s goal of increasing the number of Ohioans with a college degree.