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OCLC Annual Report 2019–2020: Rise Beyond


President’s Welcome Technology with a purpose: A community focused solely on libraries

Dear Colleagues:

Libraries have been an incredible engine of opportunity this past year, rising above all of the turbulence to deliver information digitally, support online learning, and provide communities with other resources they need. You have played a role that no one else could, by increasing access to technology and being among the first community services to safely reopen.

OCLC has been proud to support libraries in all of these efforts. Though how we work and where we work have shifted, our work on behalf of libraries remains at the forefront of everything we do.

The environment was very difficult in FY21. With all of the uncertainty in higher education, community budget concerns, and impacts on the economy around the world, we looked hard at every dollar spent. We froze hiring, salary increases, and price increases. We also did not make big cuts, unlike many other organizations, to keep critical services running and continue investing in new services for the future.

Yet, looking back over this past year, we have accomplished a great deal. The enormous challenges presented by the pandemic reinforced what we have always known to be true: Libraries can do anything when they work together. Here are a few examples.

Never have we done so much for libraries, in the midst of the most challenging of circumstances. And never have we initiated so many projects in research, programs, and services to partner with libraries for the future.

Advancing library values

  • Our work with the “Reimagine Descriptive Workflows” project is generating a community agenda to inform steps that libraries, archives, and allied organizations can take to address obsolete, discriminatory, and harmful language in bibliographic records.
  • Our partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Battelle in the REALM project helped libraries reopen safely and produced science-based information about how materials in libraries, archives, and museums could be handled and returned into circulation.
  • We provided thousands of hours of professional development for librarians at no charge through our WebJunction® platform.

Increasing library impact

  • We made strong progress in building the infrastructure that will enable libraries, OCLC, and other stakeholders to jointly curate linked data, which is critical to improving discovery of library materials in the consumer web space.
  • We built smart fulfillment capabilities in our resource sharing services to help libraries streamline processes and deliver materials faster. These include the new Express digital delivery program, in which digital items arrive on average within 10 hours.
  • Our new Capira software and mobile apps helped libraries provide users with access to collections and schedule curbside pickups, all from the convenience of their mobile phones.
  • We added new features to WorldShare® Management Services, our cloud-based library services platform, to better allow library staff to draw on the collaborative data and work of libraries worldwide for more efficiencies.
  • We grew the number of libraries in the US and Benelux using Wise®, our community engagement system that’s expanding the impact libraries have on their communities.
  • We developed new APIs, making it easier to share library data and connect library systems with other institutional or community systems.

Overcoming library challenges

  • The New Model Library, a research project based on interviews with library leaders, will help equip libraries to excel in a post-pandemic world.
  • Working with several groups, we are establishing the vision for a national discovery system for archives, something needed to help students and researchers uncover valuable historical materials.
  • And in partnership with Washington State University’s Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation, we are creating free online courses for staff at tribal archives, libraries, museums, and small public libraries on digital stewardship and community-centered curation of cultural collections.

Contributions no other organization can do

These are just a few of the many things we accomplished. Others follow, in more detail, in our report. But as you can see, never have we done so much for libraries, in the midst of the most challenging of circumstances. And never have we initiated so many projects in research, programs, and services to partner with libraries for the future.

Thank you for continuing to be a part of this community, which brings the voice of libraries into the technology and information landscape. It’s an honor to serve you and share in the success of this essential organization. Our work together has never been more important.

Signature: Skip Prichard

Skip Prichard
OCLC President and Chief Executive Officer


Remembering Dr. K. Wayne Smith
September 15, 1938–October 13, 2020

Dr. K. Wayne Smith died on October 13, 2020, at the age of 82. Wayne was OCLC’s third President and CEO, serving from 1989 to 1998, and led OCLC during a period of enormous growth. He came to OCLC after a distinguished career in government, education, and business.

He was a teacher in higher education, worked in national security at the highest levels of the US federal government, and was a successful leader in the business world. He served as CEO at World Book Encyclopedia before coming to OCLC.

Under his leadership, OCLC increased its capacity to deliver innovative information services to libraries and their users. He led the creation of new services in electronic reference, electronic publishing, resource sharing, and training. He oversaw the introduction of FirstSearch as the first online end-user reference service and began making OCLC services available on the internet. He was a fierce advocate in support of research to expand the possibilities for library and information science.

Wayne graduated summa cum laude with a BA in political science from Wake Forest University, where he was a Hankins Fellow and Phi Beta Kappa. He received MA and PhD degrees in economics and political science from Princeton University, where he was a Danforth Fellow and Woodrow Wilson Fellow. He did post-graduate work in economics at the University of Southern California.

Wayne led OCLC into the internet age. He deserves a great deal of credit for putting OCLC on firm financial footing at a critical time in the organization’s history. His contributions have had a profound influence on the course of OCLC, and on libraries around the world.

“We in the OCLC community share in a responsibility not only to our institutions and to our users, but to future generations who will build on the knowledge we made available to them.”

—Dr. K. Wayne Smith in his last annual report to the OCLC membership, October 6, 1997.

Year in Review

As the pandemic continued to impact daily life in many parts of the world, FY21 was a year in which, together with the library community, we rose beyond barriers and challenges to serve our communities in new ways and with a renewed sense of purpose.

We contributed to advancing librarianship by supporting the reopening of libraries with science-based information and working to change library practice based on research and learning.

We connected more people to libraries and more libraries to each other by mobilizing our network to provide greater access to the collective collection and to help libraries connect to people on-demand through smart fulfillment.

We created solutions to meet library needs today and tomorrow, adding new system features critical for enabling deeper community engagement, more flexible workflows, and better user experiences. We also developed tools and services to prepare for the future.


Contribute to the advancement of libraries and librarianship

OCLC accelerates and scales learning, innovation, and collaboration to advance libraries and librarianship. By engaging members through surveys, pilot tests, research projects, and other activities, we help keep libraries relevant by identifying and investigating trends and patterns of change that impact the environment in which they operate—and how those trends affect the library mission and the transformation of library services. We also advance the scholarly record by expanding WorldCat with the library community.


Help libraries, archives, and museums reopen

As libraries were forced to close their doors because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew that they would need science-based information for reopening. Our work on the REALM project with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Battelle produced research on how materials could be safely handled and returned back into circulation. REALM completed eight laboratory tests that studied the life span of the virus on materials that are prevalent in libraries, archives, and museums; synthesized emerging research findings; and produced toolkit resources to inform local decision making.

Illustration: Masked student studying in library

Explore new areas of librarianship with research

As a part of OCLC’s work in documenting how libraries operate and adapt, the OCLC Research team meets with global library leaders to discuss and address emerging library models and new and evolving library practices and policies. Five reports published in FY21 address stewardship costs, the future of metadata and linked data, and the challenges of providing research support services.

Illustration: Research report covers

Developed by the OCLC Research Library Partnership’s Collection Building and Operational Impacts Working Group, the Total Cost of Stewardship: Responsible Collection Building in Archives and Special Collections proposes a framework for a holistic approach to understanding the resources needed to responsibly acquire and steward archives and special collections. The framework responds to the ongoing challenge of descriptive backlogs in archives and special collections by connecting collection development decisions to stewardship responsibilities.

Transitioning to the Next Generation of Metadata synthesizes six years of discussions by the OCLC Research Library Partners Metadata Managers Focus Group to consider why and how metadata is changing, how the creation process is changing, what impact these changes will have on future staffing requirements, and how libraries can prepare.

Transforming Metadata into Linked Data to Improve Digital Collection Discoverability: A CONTENTdm Pilot Project shares the CONTENTdm® Linked Data Pilot project findings, where OCLC and five partner institutions investigated methods for—and the feasibility of—transforming metadata into linked data to improve the discoverability and management of digitized cultural materials.

Archives and Special Collections Linked Data: Navigating between Notes and Nodes shares the findings from the Archives and Special Collections Linked Data Review Group, which explored key areas of concern and opportunities for archives and special collections in transitioning to a linked data environment.

Social Interoperability in Research Support: Cross-Campus Partnerships and the University Research Enterprise, which was based upon interviews with 22 individuals from 17 US research-intensive universities, examines the growing imperative for cross-campus, cross-domain institutional collaboration in providing successful research support services. It offers a conceptual model for campus research support stakeholders, including context about their priorities and contributions. It also synthesizes lessons and best practices from participants on how to optimize social interoperability in research support.

Advance innovation through grant-funded projects

As a lead or partner, we launched or supplemented six new grant-funded research projects that support libraries, museums, and archives, and advance innovative research in the field.

We were awarded a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Reimagine Descriptive Workflows in consultation with Shift Collective. This initiative convened a diverse group of experts, practitioners, and community members to help implement antiracist and inclusive language in metadata descriptions by improving descriptive practices, tools, infrastructure, and workflows.

With funding from IMLS, we are working with the University of Virginia and project lead California Digital Library, in close partnership with LYRASIS and statewide/regional aggregators, to conduct a two-year research and demonstration project to build the foundation for a National Archival Finding Aid Network (NAFAN). OCLC is leading the qualitative and quantitative research for this initiative.

Illustration: Logos for Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and IMLS

Illustration: Logos for Washington State University's Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation and LEADING Grant

We were awarded an IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grant to create a series of free, on-demand courses on the digital stewardship life cycle for tribal archives, libraries, museums (TALMs), and small public libraries. The WebJunction team is leading the project and is drawing upon the subject matter expertise of Washington State University’s Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation.

We are participating in the IMLS-funded LEADING Grant, managed by the Metadata Research Center at Drexel University, to build a national network for early career professionals and LIS doctoral students to collectively advance capacities for the national digital platform.

IMLS extended its cooperative agreement with us to serve as Mentor Organization to a second cohort of Transforming School Library Practice grantees. OCLC is mentoring a total of 15 US school libraries for two years as they execute their IMLS Accelerating Promising Practices in Small Libraries projects.

We began the Operationalizing the Art Research Collective Collection project with funding support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. This initiative will develop new collaboration and partnership models between art, academic, and independent research libraries to support collective collections across these institutions.

Illustration: Children in a school library; Art research illuminated manuscript

Engage thousands of library staff in education and training

Illustration: Woman taking online training program through WebJunction

OCLC’s WebJunction program provides a professional social network for library staff to sharpen professional skills and learn from each other. WebJunction designs and delivers learning through online training programs, self-directed study, and facilitated peer-to-peer support using tools of collaboration, applied research, and learning networks to bring new ideas and innovations to more libraries. This approach ensures that all libraries—regardless of size, type, or geographic location—can effectively use and share resources toward common goals.

In FY21, enrollment in WebJunction’s course catalog remained strong. It continued to outpace the pre-pandemic numbers, as library staff actively engaged with professional development opportunities. Last year saw 30,652 learners take part in WebJunction courses, a 40% increase from FY19. The course catalog includes more than 50 self-paced courses on library topics and 360 webinar recordings.

The Research Library Partnership (RLP) developed new partnerships with allied organizations to raise OCLC’s thought leadership profile in Europe and Australia.

With LIBER, we hosted a discussion series on Open Science through webinars and discussion groups. The series, based on the LIBER Open Science Roadmap, will help guide research libraries in envisioning the support infrastructure for Open Science (OS) and their role at local, national, and global levels.

We also partnered with LIBER to host a virtual workshop series to focus on how librarians can work toward “Building Strategic Relationships to Advance Open Scholarship at Your Institution.”

OCLC Research ran a discussion series for European libraries on the “Next Generation of Metadata,” which focused on the latest published reports from OCLC Research on metadata and linked data.

The RLP collaborated with the National and State Libraries Australia (NSLA) to produce two works in progress webinars, “Operationalising the CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance” and the “Total Cost of Stewardship.”

Illustration: Logos for LIBER and National and State Libraries Australia (NSLA)

Build and organize the world’s collected knowledge

OCLC staff and thousands of member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the most comprehensive global network of data about library collections. Unique in scale and unparalleled in data quality, WorldCat makes library collections findable and accessible around the world. It also enables libraries to share high-quality metadata and bibliographic records with each other, dramatically reducing time spent on collection development and cataloging tasks. It is the manifestation of the creativity and innovation of OCLC and thousands of librarians and is a testament to the power of librarianship.

In FY21, WorldCat grew beyond 500 million records and 3 billion library holdings, a 6.74% growth in bibliographic records and a 4.35% growth in holdings from FY20. These records and holdings empower libraries to share their resources across the globe and empower library users to find and access information no matter how near or far.

Together with the shared print community, we are making immense progress toward our shared goal of securing and providing access to the scholarly and cultural record for generations to come. The number of shared print commitments registered in WorldCat reached more than 25 million in FY21. As that figure continues to grow at a rapid pace, we remain committed to supporting shared print initiatives at scale.

Illustration: WorldCat records and holdings growth chart. WorldCat records reached 515 million in FY21; holdings increased to 3.1 billion.


Connect more people to libraries and more libraries to each other

New OCLC services helped libraries continue to broaden access to library collections with a focus on improving the user experience and streamlining vital, back-office tasks. And we continued to connect libraries through a steady stream of virtual engagement events.


Mobilize the library network

Recognizing that effective community engagement for libraries requires an intuitive, powerful, and flexible mobile app, we purchased Capira Technologies in 2020. Capira creates customized mobile apps, providing for an optimal user experience, including digital library cards, self-checkout, and more. CapiraMobile is the fastest-growing public library mobile app on the market. CapiraCurbside enables contactless, easy curbside delivery for library staff and customers—a critical service for many libraries to continue services in the COVID-19 environment.

Illustration: CapiraMobile smartphone app

Exceed user expectations with innovative resource sharing services

Illustration: Smart fulfillment

We continued to advance our new smart fulfillment functionality across all OCLC resource sharing services. New smart fulfillment delivery capabilities make fast, real-time, data-driven recommendations based on a library’s local policies, item availability, network relationships, and user needs. Included with a WorldShare® Interlibrary Loan (ILL) subscription and also available via ILLiad and Tipasa®, these features provide the delivery experience users want with remarkable speed and minimal manual intervention from staff, which saves libraries time and money.

We launched the new Express digital delivery program to facilitate exceptionally fast turnaround times using smart fulfillment enhancements to OCLC resource sharing services. More than 1,000 libraries are now participating in this new program, which is available at no extra cost to libraries with WorldShare ILL, Tipasa, or ILLiad. During its first five months, more than 160,000 copy requests were filled in an average of 10.4 hours among Express libraries.

Illustration: OCLC Express badge

Illustration: xxxxxx

We introduced the OCLC Interlibrary Loan Cost Calculator, which is a free, online tool that has the potential to act as a virtual real-time ILL cost study. Designed in collaboration with resource sharing experts and built by OCLC Research staff, the calculator was opened up for all users in February 2021 and already has more than 60 academic and public libraries registered and more than a dozen data sets uploaded. A recorded webinar gives a guided tour of what the tool does and how individual institutions and the library community can benefit.

Transform member-focused engagement

OCLC Global Council met virtually in FY21 and continued transforming itself to build international representation and strengthen members’ ability to reflect local and regional views on issues facing libraries today.

Illustration: OCLC Global Council logo

Area of focus

The Global Council selected the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as its area of focus for 2020–2021 to explore libraries’ contributions and opportunities to reach these global goals. Activities included:

Global library survey
Council partnered with OCLC Research to survey libraries worldwide. We received 1,724 completed surveys, representing 99 countries. The data gathered provided a more comprehensive global insight on libraries and SDGs and is a key part of the original research that OCLC published in a final report in September 2021.

SDG webinar series
Council also hosted a series of five webinars to create awareness and dialogue among library leaders around the globe on the SDGs. Nearly 3,300 people registered for the webinars with more than 1,500 individuals attending the live sessions. Barbara Lison, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) President and OCLC Board Trustee, helped to kick off this series in November 2020. Global Council Delegate Lorely Ambriz, Head Librarian/Assistant Professor, El Paso Community College, published an OCLC Next blog post on the SDGs, Stronger together: Libraries focus on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Illustration: Global Council Sustainable Development Goals webinar


Through Global Council elections, voters approved changes to the OCLC Global and Regional Council Bylaws and the OCLC Membership Protocols. Pilar Martinez and Earl Givens, Jr. were elected Global Council Chair and Vice Chair. The Global Council Executive Committee for the year was:

  • Pilar Martinez
    Chair of the Americas Regional Council
  • Jan Simane
    Chair of the Europe, Middle East, and Africa Regional Council
  • Constance Wiebrands
    Chair of the Asia Pacific Regional Council
  • Earl Givens, Jr.
    Vice Chair/Chair-Elect of Americas Regional Council
  • Sarah Hurter-Savie
    Vice Chair/Chair-Elect of the Chair of Europe, Middle East, and Africa Regional Council
  • Kuang-hua Chen
    Vice Chair of the Asia Pacific Regional Council

Annual meeting

At its annual meeting held virtually in March 2021 due to COVID-19, the Global Council elected Debbie Schachter, Director, Library Services and Learning Commons, at Langara College in Vancouver, Canada, to the OCLC Board of Trustees. She will take her seat on the Board in November 2021.

Anja Smit, University Librarian at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and Shirley Chiu-wing Wong, University Librarian at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, took their seats on the OCLC Board of Trustees during the Board’s regular meeting. Council elected Anja and Shirley to the Board in March 2020.


A message from John Szabo, OCLC Board Chair
City Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library

It has been my honor to serve as Board Chair since 2017, and I’ve never been prouder to represent OCLC than I was this past year. The way OCLC adjusted to serve library users on so many challenging fronts was truly impressive. We partnered with funding agencies and the scientific community to provide sound data to make informed decisions about reopening. We worked with libraries to prioritize product investments to respond to shifting needs during the pandemic disruption. And we stepped up with an action plan to face the challenges of advancing racial equity. The staff of OCLC reached more librarians with virtual events than ever before and completed an astounding number of product enhancements and new infrastructure projects. It has been a historic year of growth, learning, and advocacy.

Photo: John Szabo


2020–2021 OCLC Board of Trustees

John F. Szabo
Chair, OCLC Board of Trustees
City Librarian
Los Angeles Public Library

Cindy Hilsheimer
Vice Chair, OCLC Board of Trustees
Managing Principal

Craig Anderson
University Librarian (retired)
Deakin University

Theresa S. Byrd
Dean of the University Library
University of San Diego

Brady J. Deaton
Chancellor Emeritus
University of Missouri

Bernadette Gray-Little
Chancellor Emerita
University of Kansas

Kathleen Keane
Director (retired)
Johns Hopkins University Press

Barbara Lison
Bremen Public Library

James G. Neal
University Librarian Emeritus
Columbia University

John R. Patrick
Attitude LLC

Skip Prichard
President and Chief Executive Officer

Anja Smit
University Librarian
Utrecht University

Ginny Steel
Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian
University of California, Los Angeles

Sarah E. Thomas
Vice President for the Harvard Library (retired)
Harvard University

Shirley Chiu-wing Wong
University Librarian
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Deepen connections through OCLC events

OCLC’s event teams re-engineered our events strategy to adapt to virtual environments. Participation at conferences and meetings included interactive live presentations as well as prerecorded content. We participated in more than 170 virtual events in the Americas, achieving more than 17,000 attendee interactions. Our EMEA team organized 170 virtual events and meetings during the year, with 9,347 registrations and 5,795 attendees. Among the highlights:

We presented on-demand videos, livestreaming events, and virtual booths at the ACRL 2021 Conference and the ALA Midwinter and Annual virtual conferences.

The first virtual version of the annual Bibliotheksleitertag (“Library Leaders Day”) that OCLC hosts in Germany achieved attendance records, far exceeding the typical in-person attendance of 200–300 participants. More than 1,200 participants registered, and the combined session registrations exceeded 4,000.

We produced a virtual edition of OCLC Contactdag, the largest customer-facing event hosted by our Dutch sales and marketing staff. Nearly 370 registrants participated in this event, which was held online over five days. It included a plenary session and eight breakout sessions led by 26 speakers.

Illustration: Virtual events

Illustration: Community engagement

We presented OCLC Community Engagement Awards to Orange County Library System (OCLS), Florida, Jackson District Library, Michigan, and Edmonton Public Library, Alberta, Canada, for outstanding programs that have transformed lives in the communities they serve. We also added a new, dedicated web page to support our goal to be a hub for community engagement stories, tools, successes, and connections. At the same time, we launched the #EngagedLibraries, a new social media campaign that invites library workers to share stories of community engagement success.

The OCLC Community Center, an online forum for library staff to connect with their peers, ask questions about workflows and best practices, and contribute ideas to improve OCLC services, celebrated its fifth anniversary. In FY21, the Community Center grew to more than 35,000 members from more than 8,500 institutions, a 53% increase over FY20. The Community Center averaged 321 new postings per month and hosted community- and OCLC-led online sessions throughout the year that covered a wide range of OCLC products.

We held the 2021 OCLC Resource Sharing Conference, a series of six free, virtual meetings that featured 22 community speakers. More than 3,000 people representing more than 930 institutions and 21 countries attended. The event included sessions on mobile scanning stations for electronic document delivery, controlled digital lending, and moving resource sharing forward during this challenging time.


Create solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s needs

We continued our work with libraries to improve our systems and better serve our members. These efforts helped public libraries reinvent how they build relationships with their users and communities. We added hundreds of new features to upgrade products critical to the success of libraries and library groups. We continued to expand our diverse set of APIs, many of which we develop in partnership with libraries, library service providers, and other partners who share our commitment to increasing access to knowledge. We enhanced our authentication software, which allows libraries to deliver e-resources simply and securely. And we made strong progress on the linked data front, building a shared entity management infrastructure that will enable libraries and other stakeholders to jointly curate linked data.


Mark the tenth anniversary of the world’s first cloud-based library platform

As the ever-growing WorldShare® Management Services (WMS) community marked its tenth anniversary, libraries around the world continued to support this fully integrated library platform. Nearly 700 libraries in 23 countries have selected WMS. New subscribers include:

Logo: WorldShare Management Services

North America

  • Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal
  • Ingalls Library and Museum Archives (part of the Cleveland Museum of Art), Ohio
  • Space Telescope Science Institute Library, Maryland
  • Texas Southern University and the Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University, Texas
  • Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York
  • Albertus Magnus College, Connecticut
  • American Museum of Natural History Library, New York
  • Hofstra University and Hofstra University Law School, New York


  • National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Ireland
  • Franklin University, Switzerland
  • Police University of Brandenburg, Germany
  • Kühne Logistics University, Germany
  • Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany
  • ISDI Digital Business School, Spain
  • University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy

We added more than 200 new enhancements to WMS in FY21—more than 70% of which were based on community input—as we continue to streamline acquisitions workflows, add new staff functions to the Digby mobile app, and enhance patron flexibility to access materials.

Illustration: WMS FedRamp authorization

WMS achieved US Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) authorization following a rigorous evaluation to meet the US government’s security requirements for cloud services. The US Census Bureau Library served as OCLC’s agency sponsor for FedRAMP.

WMS achieved the highest overall score on the latest Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (APUC) Framework Agreement for Library Management Systems. The APUC, serving Scotland’s universities and colleges, looks closely at development, implementation and support, and the functional capabilities of systems so that APUC members do not have to go through a tender process.

Help libraries better engage their communities

We continued to expand OCLC Wise, a transformative community engagement system that empowers public libraries to strengthen current customer relationships, build new connections with the wider community, and better meet changing community needs.

In addition to continuing to work closely with early adopters for product development, the US Wise team successfully pivoted to all-remote implementations in FY21. This included the in-depth surveys and analysis of operational workflows, policies, practices, and data to configure each initial instance; library testing and reconfigurations with each data migration; and library administrative staff skills training. During this period, four libraries went live: Anythink, Greensboro Public Library, Kokomo-Howard County Public Library and Fayetteville Public Library. We now have six US libraries live on the system.

Illustration: OCLC Wise. Engagement event photos courtesy Greensboro Public Library

Pre-pandemic event photos courtesy Greensboro Public Library

We also expanded in Europe, adding 95 libraries from Cultuurconnect in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium. To date, 210 libraries with Cultuurconnect are live with Wise. This project includes all 315 public libraries in Flanders, with libraries implementing the system in phases through 2021.

Introduce powerful new features to improve library security

Illustration: EZproxy

We updated EZproxy®, our e-resource access and authentication solution, with security features to help mitigate data breaches that disrupt library operations. Libraries now benefit from a customizable set of rules that automatically identify and disable compromised single sign-on credentials in real-time, and an optional pseudonymous user identifier that streamlines and secures feedback loops with content providers.

COVID-19 dramatically changed learning and research workflows and user expectations for interacting with library resources. To meet these expectations and provide the most reliable, secure access possible, more libraries chose to have OCLC host and manage their EZproxy application. OCLC’s hosted customer base grew approximately 15%. In the EMEA and Asia Pacific regions alone, more than 100 libraries either migrated to or subscribed to the hosted version for the first time.

Fifty-six libraries around the world have purchased EZproxy Analytics to get up-to-date, actionable insights about who’s using their e-resources and how. These customers use EZproxy Analytics to gain a deeper understanding of resource usage, justify their investments, and inform decisions about renewals, cancellations, and acquisitions.

Put a distinct user experience in discovery services

We redesigned the WorldCat Discovery interface. This updated interface provides a frictionless user experience that helps users more intuitively find and get resources from library collections. The redesigned WorldCat Discovery landing, search results, and item details pages now comply with WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility guidelines. OCLC members actively partnered with the WorldCat Discovery team throughout the year to suggest and refine new and enhanced features in the new interface.

Illustration: WorldCat Discovery revised interface

We signed new agreements with publishers to connect users to information they need: We added 58 new content collections from 23 content providers (11 new providers) to the WorldCat Discovery central index to ensure discovery of their content through WorldCat Discovery. At the end of FY21, we had agreements with 377 publishers and information providers to include metadata for 3,111 collections of books, e-books, journals, databases, and other materials from these global publishers to the central index. In total, these collections represent 4.3 billion records.

We launched a new database of open-access content in FirstSearch® to help researchers easily find open-access resources from familiar content providers. Developed in response to requests from FirstSearch users, the Open Access Content database expands on our 20-year history of partnering with the world’s leading content providers to represent high-quality open content in WorldCat and OCLC services. Searches in this database retrieve only open-access items with “access” links for users to full-text open content.

Provide innovative decision support solutions for collection management

Illustration: GreenGlass

We released GreenGlass® for Serials, further empowering libraries to confidently make print collection management decisions by supporting the responsible deselection of serials. By leveraging and comparing data in WorldCat, JSTOR, and other known journal archives, GreenGlass for Serials equips libraries with the insights needed to take local action in a collective context and protect the scholarly record. These insights allow libraries to see how widely their serials titles are held and if their serials titles are held in known journal archives; to compare the extent of their serials holdings with those in known journal archives; to see which of their journal runs are out of date or incomplete; to segment their collection by location, subject, language, or publication status; and to search by title, ISSN, OCLC number, and OCLC work ID.

Invent and improve library technology

As a leader in data technology and an innovator in cloud technology, we are uniquely positioned to partner with member libraries in a complex technology environment. APIs (application programming interfaces) let our member libraries build and share the custom workflows they need to respond to changing user expectations across mobile, personal assistant, and other devices. In FY21, we continued to expand our diverse set of APIs.

The new WorldCat Discovery Premium API package leverages popular WorldCat Discovery features to help library staff customize, enrich, and extend discovery services. These include APIs for:

The WorldCat Metadata API allows libraries to easily search for, create, and enrich WorldCat records, and to find shared print retention commitments in WorldCat.

Move linked data from research to reality

After more than a decade of research, pilots, and other exploratory work, we are on track to complete a production shared entity management infrastructure that will support linked data initiatives throughout the library community. This new infrastructure will include more than 100 million easily accessible entities of works and persons that can be used to increase connections between library materials and other relevant collections. With our accompanying user interfaces and APIs, this entity ecosystem will improve efficiency of metadata workflows across collections and material types, improve MARC record quality and accuracy, and ultimately make library materials more connected and discoverable on the web. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funding represents approximately half of the total cost of this important work and OCLC is contributing the remaining half of the required investment.

Illustration: Linked data infrastructure


FY21 Financials

As a library services provider, OCLC is unique. We are a worldwide nonprofit organization that reinvests all of our income into library research, programs, and product development. Our goal is to meet the technology needs and service requirements identified by our membership.


Ensuring the future

Despite holding prices flat and the uncertainty of the impact of the pandemic, FY21 revenues from library services grew 1.5% over the previous year. Growth in our services that support digital access and remote learning, such as EZproxy, along with government grants we received to assist libraries in coping with the pandemic, were the primary drivers that helped revenues reach $217.8 million.

Net contribution for FY21 was $55.5 million. Just as many university endowments and community investments benefited by investment gains, OCLC’s investment portfolio also saw noncash-related gains in our investment portfolio. This was driven by dividends and interest on the portfolio, as US stocks rose to all-time highs, as well as pandemic-related cost control measures that included a salary freeze, a hiring slowdown, and temporary reductions of facility, travel, and meeting expenses.

Overall, revenue from library services and income from our investment portfolio provided a stable cash flow to fund operations, improve services, and make strategic capital investments during the pandemic and a time of economic challenge.

Summary of consolidated activities

Amount in $ millions

FY21 FY20
Operating activities Library services revenue $217.8 $214.6
Operating results before portfolio activity $4.6 ($0.1)
Investing activities Investment portfolio activity
Dividends and investment income $9.7 $8.6
Net gains/(losses) $1.6 $(9.4)
Net unrealized gain on investment $39.6 $1.2
Net contribution $55.5 $0.3

The OCLC investment portfolio

Our investment portfolio was valued at $284.9 million at the end of FY21, an increase in value of $61.4 million in line with the record stock market performance this last year. The portfolio generates dividend and interest income that is withdrawn annually to fund cash needs.

At the end of FY21, OCLC’s outstanding debt was $78.7 million compared to $83.1 million in FY20.

Investment portfolio and debt

Amount in $ millions end of fiscal year

Chart: OCLC FY21 investment portfolio and debt

Research and development

We regularly engage with our membership through Regional and Global Council meetings as well as specific product groups, advisory committees, and research projects to identify trends that are shaping the library profession. Based on these conversations, we continue to invest in a variety of specific initiatives that our members have told us are critical to their success.

FY21 research and development investments

Total $35.5 million

Chart: OCLC FY21 research and development expenditures

Investment categories include:

Metadata services (12%)

OCLC Cataloging and Metadata Subscription, WorldShare® Metadata Services, CONTENTdm®, Contract Cataloging, Dewey® Services, CBS Services

Delivery services (23%)

Tipasa®, GreenGlass®, Relais® D2D, WorldShare Interlibrary Loan, VDX®, WorldCat Navigator® WorldCat® Discovery,™, PiCarta®

Management services (22%)

WorldShare Management Services, WorldShare License Manager, WorldShare Collection Evaluation, WorldShare Report Designer, EZproxy®, SISIS‐SunRise, LBS, Amlib®, BIBLIOTHECAplus, OCLC Wise®, OLIB®

Data services (18%)

WorldCat, WorldCat knowledge base, WorldCat Discovery central index

WorldShare Platform (3%)

The infrastructure that supports cloud services

OCLC Research (20%)

OCLC Research initiatives

Systems/corporate initiatives (2%)

Data centers, technical infrastructure

For additional information, please view the following resources:

The Audit Committee, consisting entirely of independent trustees, assists the Board of Trustees in its oversight of our financial reporting process and is responsible for, among other things, reviewing with BDO USA LLP, independent auditors, the scope and results of its audit engagement.


Rise Beyond

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the OCLC community. Together, we will continue to rise beyond to build on the strength of our collaborative network and continue to move the library profession forward.