OCLC's Cookie Policy

Cookies and tracking technologies

When OCLC speaks about cookies on our websites or services, we use the term to refer to cookies, web beacons and other tracking technologies that store and access information on the device that you use to access our websites or services.

What is a cookie?

A cookie is a text file containing a small amount of data that is downloaded to your computer when you visit one of our websites. The vast majority of websites use cookies and tracking technologies. Cookies are useful because they help OCLC arrange the content and layout of our websites and recognize those computers that have been to our websites before. They allow us to remember users’ preference settings and play an important role in helping OCLC enhance the usability and performance of our websites and services, as well as your experience using them. Some cookies are also essential to enable you to move around our website and use its features. They also help us to identify which of our articles are the most popular and the types of journey visitors have to our websites.

What is a Flash cookie?

This is a type of cookie which is collected via Adobe Flash media player—a piece of software which you probably have on your computer to help you watch online videos and listen to podcasts.

What is a web beacon?

Web beacons are usually tiny transparent images that help websites track the activity of users on certain web pages. They can also send the website owner information in cookies such as whether an email with a web beacon in it has been opened. We use web beacons together with cookies to help us understand how a site user interacts with our websites and the emails OCLC may send; to help us improve your browsing experience; to ensure that content is relevant to you; and to better manage our website and email content.

Cookies are often categorized by their lifespan:

  • Session cookie is a cookie that is erased when the user closes the browser
  • Persistent cookie is a cookie that remains on the user’s computer/device for a pre-defined period of time after the browser session is closed

Cookies can also be “first-party” or “third-party”. First-party means that the cookie is set directly by OCLC and its affiliates and third-party means the cookie is set by someone else on our behalf (e.g. data analytics),

Below is a short description of categories of cookies used on OCLC websites and services.

1. Essential Cookies

  • Description: These cookies are essential for the running of our websites. Without the use of these cookies parts of our websites or services would not function.

2. Analytical Performance Cookies

  • Description: These types of cookies are used to monitor a website’s performance and how users may use it. These cookies provide information that helps the site owner provide better products to their users and also to identify any areas that may need maintenance

3. Functional Cookies

  • Description: Functional cookies are used to remember your preferences on our websites. This can be anything from remembering your city in a weather forecast or saving your username.

4. Behavioral Advertising Cookies

  • Description: Use of cookies for online behavioral advertising is a way of providing advertisements on the websites you visit and making them more relevant to your interests. This is done by grouping together shared interests based upon previous web browsing activity. Advertising is then displayed to you when you visit a website which matches these interests. Behavioral advertising is based upon your web browsing activity over a period of time - so it's different to advertising you may see when you're looking for something online using a search engine (e.g. Google) or on the website you may be visiting at a particular time.

We may also track IP addresses. An IP Address is a number that can identify an Internet Service Provider and country location.

How to control the use of cookies

You are not obliged to accept cookies and may modify your browser so that it will not accept cookies. The browser you use to surf the web not only allows you to see the cookies that you have got but also allows you to control their use.

You can control them by allowing them, deleting them individually or deleting all of them. You can also set your browser to not accept cookies altogether. If this option is selected, you should be aware that many websites and online services will not function properly or at all. It may be possible to set your browser to not accept cookies and ask for your consent before each cookie is set on your device. This gives you control over what is set on your device, however has the drawback of slowing down your browsing experience.

California Do Not Track Disclosure

Some web browsers may give you the ability to enable a “do not track” feature that sends signals to the websites you visit, indicating that you do not want your online activities tracked. This is different than blocking or deleting cookies, as browsers with a “do not track” feature enabled may still accept cookies. There is currently no industry standard for how companies should respond to “do not track” signals, although one may develop in the future. We do not respond to “do not track” signals at this time.

Useful information about Cookies

Further information about cookies can be found on the following websites:

If you have any questions about the use of cookies on our websites, please email: privacy@oclc.org