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Statement on the Proposed OCLC Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records

Issue Date

The “OCLC Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records” has been widely commented on since its release on November 4, 2008.  Both the content of the policy and the process by which it was formulated have been challenged.  As a result OCLC has delayed implementation and initiated a Review Board to “Recommend principles of shared data creation and changes in the proposed Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records that will preserve the community around WorldCat infrastructure and services, and strengthen libraries…The Review Board of Shared Data Creation and Stewardship will present its findings and recommendations to the President of Members Council, the Chair of the Board of Trustees and to the OCLC President and CEO.” (see

The member consortia endorsing this ICOLC statement add our recommendation to others in the library community calling for OCLC to withdraw the proposed policy and start anew to formulate a record use policy.  Most notably we add our support to the January 30, 2009 Final Report to the ARL Board by the Ad Hoc Task Force to Review the Proposed OCLC Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records  ( ).  It includes an extended review of the policy and six recommendations.  We concur with the ARL report that OCLC develop a new policy based on widespread member library participation with a clear set of goals and explanations as to how the policy will achieve these goals and how member libraries will be affected operationally and legally.

We urge the OCLC Review Board to consider the issues raised in the ARL report and by others in the community.  The concerns are substantial and broad and individual ICOLC member consortia will find different concerns most compelling.  Underpinning these concerns are several broad issues that we ask the Review Board to consider.

1.  The proposed policy appears to freeze OCLC’s role in the library community based on historical and current relationships.  We share the concern, voiced by many, that the policy hinders rather than encourages innovation, and we urge the Review Board to carefully examine this issue.  It is unclear that the policy has been constructed with a focus on an evolving role of OCLC in enhancing the missions of an international library community with diverse and complex interests.

2.  The scope of the proposed policy goes well beyond any concerns about inappropriate commercial exploitation of WorldCat records.  It applies as well to non-commercial uses.  ICOLC member consortia are member-created, member-driven innovation agents.  Our initiatives are generally non-commercial and undertaken with member approval based on member needs.  Any OCLC record use policy should account for the rich and diverse innovation that takes place through many consortia.

3. The proposed policy is legally murky. There is no mechanism for negotiation of terms and conditions nor is it clear what constitutes acceptance by member libraries. A new policy must address these problems.

The ICOLC community is mindful of the complex set of relationships and operations that are necessary for libraries to be successful in today’s content rich and technology driven world.  There is no single way all the resources necessary for success will be utilized by each library or library consortium.  OCLC is one vital component among many that libraries will use.

The ICOLC community encourages OCLC to build on its values as an international membership organization dedicated to helping libraries and consortia provide increased access and control costs.  To that end we ask the Review Board to recommend that OCLC reconsider the proposed record use policy and undertake an open, transparent process to determine how best to support libraries around the world.

Contact Persons

Randy Dykhuis, Michigan Library Consortium, Phone: 800-530-9019 x119, Fax: 517-492-3879, E-mail:

Michele Newberry, Florida Center for Library Automation, Assistant Director for Library Services, Phone: 352-392-9020, Fax: 352-392-9185, Email:

John Helmer, Orbis Cascade Alliance, Executive Director, Phone: 541.346.1835, Fax: 541.346.1968, Email:

Endorsing Organizations

BC Electronic Library Network, Canada
Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec(Conference of Rectors and Principals of Universities of Quebec) - CREPUQ, Canada
Council of Atlantic University Libraries, Canada
Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL), Canada
FinELib, Finland
National Library of Sweden, Sweden
ALI (Academic Libraries of Indiana), USA
ALICE (Adventist Library Information Cooperative), USA
Amigos Library Services, USA
Arizona Universities Library Consortium (AULC), USA
Bibliographical Center for Research (BCR), USA
Boston Library Consortium, Inc., USA
California Digital Library (CDL), USA
California State University -- Systemwide Electronic Information Resources, USA
CARLI (Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois), USA
College Center for Library Automation, USA
Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries, USA
ConnectNY, USA
Florida Center for Library Automation, USA
INFOhio - The Information Network for Ohio Schools, USA
LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network, USA
Lyrasis, USA
Maryland Digital Library, USA
Massachusetts Health Science Library Network (MAHSLIN), USA
Michigan Library Consortium, USA
MINITEX Library Information Network, USA
Missouri Library Network Corporation (MLNC), USA
MOBIUS Consortium (Missouri), USA
NERL (NorthEast Research Libraries Consortium), USA
New York State Higher Education Initiative, USA
Nylink, USA
OhioLINK (Ohio Library and Information Network), USA
Orbis Cascade Alliance, USA
PASCAL (Partnership Among South Carolina Academic Libraries), USA
Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium, Inc.  (PALCI), USA
Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI), USA
SCELC, the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium, USA
Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries (SCURL), United Kingdom
TexShare, USA
University of Texas System Digital Library, USA
Virtual Academic Library Environment of New Jersey (VALE), USA
VIVA (The Virtual Library of Virginia), USA
Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC), USA
WiLS (Wisconsin Library Services), USA


The International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) is an informal, self-organized group currently comprising approximately 200 library consortia in North and South America, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. The member consortia serve all types and sizes of libraries. ICOLC has been in existence since 1996.

ICOLC supports participating consortia by facilitating discussion on issues of common interest. Twice per year ICOLC conducts meetings dedicated to keeping participating consortia informed about new electronic information resources, pricing practices of electronic information providers and vendors, and other issues of importance to directors, governing boards, and libaries of consortia. From time to time ICOLC also issues statements regarding topics which affect libraries and library consortia.