Enhancing the visibility and accessibility of open content


OCLC works with governing bodies, publishers, aggregators, libraries, and the communities they serve to enhance the visibility and accessibility of open content.

We bring the power of the world’s largest library cooperative to support open-access initiatives at scale. For publishers and content providers, we bring visibility to open content. For libraries and their users, we help prioritize open collections for optimal discovery and access.

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We’re partnering with providers to offer content and services that leverage all types of collections to create a more inclusive and rich experience for users.

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We’re creating more efficient ways to manage open-content resources by offering integrated workflows and superior discovery and fulfillment experiences.

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We’re making open content more discoverable and accessible through our continually expanding collections and user-friendly discovery services.

Shaping the future of open access discoverability

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OCLC Research in partnership with two Dutch library consortia—Universiteitsbibliotheken en Nationale Bibliotheek (UKB) and Samenwerkingsverband Hogeschoolbibliotheken (SHB)—are investigating ways in which academic libraries can improve the discoverability of scholarly, peer-reviewed open access (OA) publications. This project is investigating how staff at Dutch universities and universities of applied sciences are integrating scholarly, peer-reviewed OA publications into their users’ discovery workflows.

The purpose of this project is to provide evidence-based information that will help libraries improve the discoverability of peer-reviewed OA publications being produced within and outside of their institutions; develop and refine key measures to assess the discoverability of the OA resources they provide to their communities; improve discovery experiences by incorporating OA publications into users’ workflows.

Learn more about the project


Publishers and aggregators face new challenges with the shift to open content.

At OCLC, we’re partnering with global content providers of traditionally published and open-content materials to create a more inclusive and rich experience for users.

For more than 20 years, we've worked with the world’s leading content providers to get records for high-quality content into WorldCat® and OCLC’s library services. Today, we work with more than 400 partners, providing millions of fully or hybrid peer-reviewed open-access materials, including books, journals, research papers, and other materials. Through these partnerships, we’re working to make WorldCat a primary resource for the integrated discovery of open content and licensed materials.

Interested in contributing? Contact our Business Development team to learn more. Libraries that want to add metadata about their open collections to WorldCat can use the self-service WorldCat Digital Collection Gateway at no charge.

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Libraries balance budgets and priorities to meet the evolving expectations of their communities.

We help libraries better manage open content through integrated workflows and seamless discovery and fulfillment for users.

Our work to prioritize open content alongside licensed content—and our success in reaching users on the search engines and popular websites they visit most—is unparalleled in the information industry. We are continually searching for new partnerships and opportunities to increase the use and impact of library resources.

In addition, the WorldCat knowledge base is home to more than 950 open collections (and growing) that can be managed through WorldShare Collection Manager.

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Researchers dig through both paid and open content to find precisely the information they need.

With expanding open collections and easy-to-use search tools, we make open content more discoverable and accessible.

Our collection of discoverable open content will continue to increase as we work with providers to add metadata and more rapidly identify open-access content. WorldCat Discovery users and WorldCat.org visitors can limit search results to hone in on open content. Additionally, WorldCat Discovery's integration with ImpactStory and Unpaywall allow it to rigorously assess links to ensure users can access full text directly and successfully.

We are committed to supporting the recommended practices in NISO RP-19-2020, Open Discovery Initiative: Promoting Transparency in Discovery. Learn about OCLC's support for the NISO Open Discovery Initiative.

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Global perspective: Open content efforts, investments, and opinions

A July 2020 report from OCLC Research, Open Content Activities in Libraries: Same Direction, Different Trajectories—Findings from the 2018 OCLC Global Council Survey, offers a view into the current breadth of university and reseach library open-content activities and provides insight into future directions.

This report is the culmination of efforts from across OCLC membership to answer the question, “What is the status of open access and open content in libraries across the globe?” The OCLC Global Council, in partnership with OCLC Research, conducted an open content survey beginning in 2018. The survey’s broad definition of library open-content activities and its global scope offers a new perspective within the library community, uncovering the maturity and versatility of these activities.

Open Content Activities in Libraries: Same Direction, Different Trajectories—Findings from the 2018 OCLC Global Council Survey

Additional news and resources

OCLC supports libraries, researchers, educators and students with open access content through WorldCat
OCLC is supporting libraries, researchers, educators and students with high-quality open access content that is discoverable and freely accessible through WorldCat Discovery and WorldCat.org.

Recording: The shift to open at university and research libraries worldwide
Learn about the findings of our open-content survey and what they tell us about how university and research libraries are making the shift to open.

Make open content discoverable to share with the world
The Open Access Digital Theological Library (OADTL) has a clear ethical mission: to make all high-quality, open-access content in religious studies discoverable to the global community through a single curated search experience. “Our goal is both to provide existing content to a global audience and to give the developing world a voice to speak to the developed world,” explained Digital Theological Library Director Thomas Phillips. “We curate without regard to religious perspective, without any bias as far as ideology.”

For the greater (not) good (enough): Open access and information privilege 
In November 2017, Char Booth, Associate Dean of the University Library at California State University San Marcos, spoke as part of the OCLC Distinguished Seminar Series. The presentation addressed the huge impact open access has had on publishing and scholarly communication—yet who you are, what you earn, and how you research still create serious barriers to information availability. Char examined open access through the perspective of information privilege, highlighting actions libraries and allied organizations can take to reduce access inequities in pursuit of social and economic justice.

View the Open content checklist
Consider these questions and best practices along your open-content journey.

Upcoming events

Join us for these special events where OCLC will discuss open-access topics.

No events about open-access topics are currently scheduled.

From the OCLC Next  blog

OCLC is proud to be a participant and voice in the open-access movement alongside great associations and partners such as COAR, SPARC, IIIF, ORCIDDataCite, and many more. We support national and regional bibliographic infrastructure developments as well as MARC record improvements for the identification of open content.