What is an API?

An API is a mechanism to make a request of a remote system over the Web. APIs  expose structured data - like MARC or XML - across systems, in real time. Facebook, Twitter, Google and Amazon offer APIs for their services.

How do APIs add value for my patrons?

APIs help you meet your users where they are. You can add more data and functionality to your existing user interfaces. For example, if the local copy of a book is out, you could provide a link to holdings in area libraries using the WorldCat Search API. APIs also allow a commercial partner such as Talis to integrated your library's data into their application. Improving the experience for your library users!

How do APIs save time for my staff?

Because you can combine data in real time, you make it easier for staff do more within their existing workflows. For example, instead of having to have multiple tabs or windows open to see information in WMS, Amazon and a campus financial system; APIs could be used to combine information from these different systems into a single interface.

What else can I do with APIs?

I'm glad you asked! Really, there's a huge variety of potential uses. Take some time to browse through Gallery for inspiration.

Where can I learn more?

Our Pre-requisites Page will give you an idea of what kind of programming skills are involved in using APIs. From there, you can explore our documentation to get started:

The OCLC Developer Network Github Account offers client side libraries that assist with authentication.

You can also Contact Us with questions at devnet@oclc.org.

What are the usage limits for OCLC APIs?

We set limits on API usage that meet our typical member's needs while insuring sufficient network and server resources are available for everyone. For example, the WorldCat Search API v1 has a rolling 24 hour limit of 50,000 requests.

If usage limits are not sufficient for your use case, please e-mail your WSKey (but not your secret) and the API in question to support@oclc.org along with your expected need.

How do I request a WSKey?

WSKey requests can be made from WSKey Management. For additional details, see API Keys. For EZproxy, see EZproxy WSKeys.

How do I enable API access?

  1. Research the available APIs so you know what to ask for.

  2. You can start by requesting access from WSKey Management. Log in using your OCLC Services Account. Your institution's administrator can create an account for you which is authorized to obtain WSKeys.

How do I get an OCLC Services Account or reset my password?

Please contact OCLC Support for assistance.

What is a WSKey?

Web service keys, commonly referred to as WSKeys, are the primary method used for authenticating and authorizing interactions with APIs available from OCLC. WSKeys authenticate clients sending requests to APIs, in effect, creating a “secure pipe” between a remote client and the data and functionality available via APIs.

APIs are attached to WSKeys by OCLC Staff.

Developers may view all the WSKeys assigned to their account, and their parameters, from WSKey Management.

How do I get a WSKey that can access a particular institution's data?

When you request a WSKey via WSKey Management make sure you can specify the institution's data you want to get access to via the Registry ID field in the Request WSkey form. OCLC Staff will verify eligibility and then create a WSKey that has access to that institution's data.

Can I access multiple institutions from one WSKey?

Yes one WSKey can have access to multiple institutions if you are using OAuth for authentication. So far, we've only setup WSKeys for commercial partners up this way. Setting a WSKey up this way requires us to have legal agreements which outline that an institution is giving us permission to allow an partner or other institution access to their data.

How do I view my WSKeys and their properties?

Use WSKey Management. Sign in with your OCLC Services Account or WorldCat.org account and any WSKeys associated with your account will be listed. Clicking on a particular WSKey displays information associated with that key.

How do I add OCLC APIs to my key?

Send a request to support at support@oclc.org which includes a list of the services you are requesting and your WSKey. Please do not send your secret.

How do I authenticate?

OCLC's APIs primarily use OAuth to authenticate client applications. Older APIs use API key, where the client passes the key portion of the WSKey as a string.  

Are there client libraries to handle authentication?

Because OCLC utilizes the OAuth standard any client library for OAuth 2 can be used to obtain tokens.

How do I authenticate with mobile devices?

Mobile devices should use the OAuth 2 - Explicit + PKCE methodology to obtain Access Tokens to make API calls.

What formats are supported for the data returned by the APIs?

The data returned is API specific so you'll have to see the API's documentation page. However, most APIs work with JSON. Standards based APIs such as NCIP utilize XML to send request and retrieve responses.


Where can I download MARConvert?

MARConvert can be retrieved from the a repository within the Developer Network GitHub account located https://github.com/OCLC-Developer-Network/MARCView-Convert. Please note, while OCLC is hosting the software, it was not developed by OCLC and we do not provide support for it.

How do I set up MarcEdit OCLC Integration?

Please see the OCLC Support Site for instructions.