May 26, 2022

National Library of Sweden Says "No Go" to Deal With OCLC For WorldCat Records

From the National Library of Sweden:

The National Library has ended negotiations with OCLC, as the parties could not successfully come to terms on a contract.



Since 2006, the National Library has been negotiating with the OCLC on participation in WorldCat. A test contract was concluded in 2007 between the National Library and OCLC, which was to extend over the period that contract negotiations were under way. The contract was continually extended, and the National Library has paid a monthly fee to OCLC since 2009.

The negotiations primarily dealt with two issues: on the one hand, the conditions for uploading the Swedish union catalogue Libris database into OCLC’s WorldCat;the question of license/ownership for copying bibliographic records from WorldCat for use in Libris.

Some time into the negotiations, OCLC presented certain conditions for how bibliographic records taken from WorldCat for cataloguing were to be used in Libris. These conditions could not be accepted by the National Library. A fundamental condition for the entire Libris collaboration is voluntary participation. Libraries that catalogue in Libris can take out all their bibliographic records and incorporate them instead into another system, or use them in anyway the library finds suitable. The National Library makes no claim of controlling how bibliographic records taken from Libris are used.

Libris an open database
In the Agreement on Participation in the Libris joint catalogue signed by the National Library and registering libraries, Point 3.3 specifies that “the content in LIBRIS is owned by the National Library and is freely accessible in accordance with the precepts and methods reported by the National Library, both for Participating Libraries and for external partners.” Such a paragraph is necessary, both so that the National Library can sign agreements for Libris with other partners (OCLC, for example) but chiefly so that the National Library can abstain from claims of ownership of bibliographic records that were taken from Libris regardless of method. Libris could therefore be an open database, both for the libraries that use Libris for cataloguing, and for other partners.

Restrictions on use of OCLC records
Bibliographic records exported from WorldCat cannot be used and further exported in just any way, according to the OCLC agreement. The National Library would need to supervise how bibliographic records originating in WorldCat were used. And a library that took a bibliographic record from WorldCat for cataloguing in Libris and transferred it to its own system would have to accept OCLC’s terms of use.

Read the Complete Blog Post

It contains comments about how WorldCat is not “consistent” with Libris or Europeana principles.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.