API & Web Service Eligibility

Our goal at OCLC is to make data, APIs and Web services as broadly accessible and accessible and available as possible. At the same time it is also our responsibility to balance open access against a number of concerns, including privacy and data integrity, related to the information and services we steward on behalf of the cooperative.

Given that OCLC is a cooperative comprised of member organizations, our eligibility rules may be a bit different than those for other Web services with which you may be familiar.  For many popular APIs, the data and functionality that you access are for an individual user; with OCLC's APIs, access is to organizational data.  As a result, eligibility rules are tied to institutional, rather than individual criteria.

The following areas illustrate how we navigate this balancing act.

Note: While OCLC makes every effort to provide consistency in terms of eligibility for both sandbox and production access, the nature of some of our Web services requires or allows for different usage than described here. The documentation page for each Web service includes a description of eligibility specific to that service and supersedes this general description.

Sandbox Policy

We are committed to providing sandbox access to our Web services for anyone, regardless of regardless of his or her role or library/organizational affiliation with the cooperative. While sandbox usage has limitations, it does provide access for those wanting to better understand the nature of OCLC's data assets and to gain experience working with library-related APIs. By providing sandbox access to Web services, we hope to encourage innovation and experimentation when working with library data and functionality.

In most cases, there is no facility for test access to an instiution's production data. Sandbox access is associated with a test (or demo) institution and is shared. A good understanding of the data and considered test cases will help make sandbox testing more effective. Particular caution should be taken the first time Create, Update, or Delete actions are applied to production data.    

Please note that not all Web services and APIs have sandbox access. We continue to evaluate ways of supporting test access to representative data sets.  

Production Access Policy

Production access generally allows for fuller usage of our Web services and is typically available to employees of qualifying institutions at no additional charge for non-commercial use. Qualifying institutions are OCLC member libraries that contribute to WorldCat and are visible on WorldCat.org.

Contribution to WorldCat is here defined as maintaining an OCLC cataloging subscription or another agreement to provide a full representation of the library's currently cataloged bibliographic records. Libraries that catalog in the Dutch GGC (Gemeenschappelijk Catalogiseersysteem) or in the CBS systems of CBS partner organizations also meet the cataloging qualification, if there is also a partnership agreement in place with OCLC. Visibility on WorldCat.org is determined by having a subscription to WorldCat Discovery or equivalent WorldCat.org agreement.

Get Started

Before starting a project with any OCLC Web service, we encourage you to:

We are a worldwide library cooperative, owned, governed and sustained by members since 1967. Our public purpose is a statement of commitment to each other—that we will work together to improve access to the information held in libraries around the globe, and find ways to reduce costs for libraries through collaboration. Learn more »