Latin America and Caribbean

WorldCat record use and data licensing

WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative

This policy recognizes as essential the need for OCLC members to share and reuse their data with many partners, across many systems, sites and applications. Our goal in developing this policy was to maximize the possibilities for open data sharing while balancing that imperative with some boundaries intended to sustain WorldCat, the services and outcomes it produces for members, and the OCLC cooperative over the long term. The policy—WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative—replaces the Guidelines for Use and Transfer of OCLC Derived Records.

A code of good practice for the OCLC cooperative

The policy emphasizes a code of good practice for members of the cooperative, based on shared values, trust and reciprocity. The focus of the policy is on member rights and responsibilities—instead of data ownership issues, detailed provisions or restrictions—with the general aim of fostering innovation in our ever-changing information landscape.

The WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities policy outlines OCLC members' rights to:

  • Transfer their data to individual scholars for their personal, academic or scientific research or study;
  • Transfer their data to library consortia and public agencies working on behalf of libraries;
  • Transfer their data to other libraries and educational, cultural or scholarly institutions, whether these institutions are members of OCLC or nonmembers;
  • Transfer their data to agents acting on their behalf.

In addition, members are encouraged to refer OCLC to third parties to develop appropriate business arrangements and to refer new opportunities for working with third parties to OCLC.

Community norms

OCLC member institutions request that use of the bibliographic data be consistent with the community norms of the OCLC cooperative set forth in WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative (the "Community Norms"). During the past 40 years, more than 26,000 library members of the OCLC cooperative have worked to create WorldCat. Following the community norms helps support OCLC and directly impacts our ability to continue providing data.

Open data license recommendation for WorldCat-derived data

OCLC, supported by the OCLC Global and Regional Councils and the Board of Trustees, recommends that the Open Data Commons Attribution (ODC-BY) license be used by OCLC members who want to release their library catalogs under an open data license structure. This approach is both consistent with WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities (WCRR), and with the changing data environment in which many libraries are now examining ways that they can make their bibliographic data available, for free, on the Internet. This recommendation anticipates innovative reuse and fuller integration of WorldCat and other library data into the broader Web environment.

Use of the OCLC Control Number (OCN)

OCLC considers the OCLC Control Number (OCN) to be an important data element, separate from the rest of the data included in bibliographic records. The OCN identifies the record, but is not part of the record itself. It is used in a variety of human and machine-readable processes, both on its own and in subsequent manipulations of catalog data. OCLC makes no copyright claims in individual bibliographic elements nor does it make any intellectual property claims to the OCLC Control Number. Therefore, the OCN can be treated as if it is in the public domain and can be included in any data exposure mechanism or activity as public domain data. OCLC, in fact, encourages these uses as they provide the opportunity for libraries to make useful connections between different bibliographic systems and services, as well as to information in other domains.


Open Data Commons Attribution is required.

Preferred form of attribution:

Contains OCLC WorldCat information made available under the ODC Attribution license. The OCLC cooperative requests that uses of WorldCat derived data contained in this work conform with the WorldCat community norms.

Model language for data set landing pages

OCLC members could use the following language on the pages where they expect groups from outside OCLC to access or download their data:

This database contains data derived from the WorldCat database, which is created and maintained by OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. and its members. Your attribution when using this WorldCat-derived data supports the OCLC cooperative and the WorldCat database on which we rely and directly impacts our ability to keep providing great library information services to our library community and the public.

This database is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License (ODC-BY), which means you should: attribute your use of this database to us and OCLC, and; review the OCLC community norms for how we would like our institutions to be treated.

For more on how to do both of these and the specifics, please see the ODC-BY text, the WCRR Record Use Policy, our community norms, our frequently asked questions about data licensing and the rest of our site for details. If there are any questions, please contact us at