OCLC Services

Mission: The State's OCLC Group Services contract provides access to unlimited cataloging and interlibrary loan services at a fair, equitable, affordable cost for all Montana libraries.

Founded in 1967, OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world's information and reducing information costs. More than 60,000 libraries in 112 countries and territories around the world use OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend and preserve library materials.

Researchers, students, faculty, scholars, professional librarians and other information seekers use OCLC services to obtain bibliographic, abstract and full-text information when and where they need it.

OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat – the OCLC Online Union Catalog.

Montana OCLC Group Services is funded through library annual fees, state funding, and Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA) funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.



Other FAQ's about OCLC costs:

  • How much will OCLC cost this year? Please feel free to open a help desk ticket to request a cost estimate.
  • When will I see the invoice from OCLC? OCLC will send you an invoice in late July or early August, and you can send payment to them directly. The State Library does not collect payment for OCLC.


OCLC enrollment fees are offset by contributions from MSL.

Annual enrollment takes place in the spring, but late enrollees may be added on a rolling basis. 

Please contact Cara Orban for a cost estimate if your library is new to OCLC Group Services.

Other FAQs about enrollment

Who: Any library that needs to enroll as a new member in Group Services. Current subscribers will be automatically enrolled this year. Montana Shared Catalog libraries are required to maintain enrollment in Group Services.

By enrolling in Group Services, your library staff has access to these services:

  • Unlimited cataloging
  • FirstSearch  – FirstSearch is an online reference search tool that delivers quality content from WorldCat and other quality, respected databases.
  • WorldCat – A global library network that thousands of institutions rely upon because they have built it together over 30 years. Librarians and other information professionals continuously enrich and use this one-of-a-kind resource guided by the values of community, efficiency and trust, the same principles that motivated the creation of libraries themselves. These institutions join a larger community of libraries knowing it lets them better serve the people in their own local communities.
  • Worldcat.org – WorldCat.org is a web portal for the WorldCat database, making your library collection discoverable anywhere on the Web. If your holding is in the WorldCat database, it is now discoverable on the Web.
  • WorldShare Interlibrary Loan – OCLC WorldShare® Interlibrary Loan is a new service that replaces WorldCat Resource Sharing, as part of libraries’ existing subscriptions. The service centralizes workflows and provides functionality that speeds fulfillment of interlibrary loan requests to save time for library staff and library users.

When your library joins OCLC, you agree to several "Principles of Cooperation", which include your promise to:

  • Contribute to OCLC all current bibliographic and holdings information which represents cataloged items in your collections;
  • Create bibliographic records and related data at the fullest possible level, consistent with the standards and guidelines adopted by OCLC;
  • Support prompt contribution of bibliographic records and related data to promote shared use of records and library resources;
  • Cooperate with OCLC, regional networks and other partners, and participating libraries to identify and correct errors in contributed information and to avoid introducing duplicate records; and to
  • Limit use of OCLC records, systems and services to OCLC authorized users.

OCLC is a nonprofit membership organization serving more than 72,000 libraries in 170 countries and territories around the world. Its mission is to further access to the world's information and reduce library costs by offering services for libraries and their users. Membership in OCLC is a unique cooperative venture, giving libraries global access to OCLC's services and databases, including WorldCat. OCLC membership comprises the world's largest library consortium.

Our statewide contract with OCLC allows an unlimited number of ILLs for your library, for an annual fixed fee. Your library has five options shaping how (and if) your users are able to request items online and how (and if) you want to manage ILL online. For all online managed options your library may chose to borrow materials only, supply materials only, or both borrow and supply ILL items. Here are your options:

  1. No Online ILLs
    Patrons cannot request items online, and your library does not manage ILL online using OCLC. Libraries choosing this option are using OCLC exclusively as a cataloging tool.
  2. E-mail ILL Requests Only
    Patrons can request items online, and their requests are e-mailed to your library. Your library manages ILL transactions using ALA forms, fax, OCLC's interlibrary loan system, or by some other means.
  3. ILL Management Only
    Patrons cannot request items online, but your library does manage ILL online using OCLC's FirstSearch. Your library creates and approves each ILL request before it gets sent to another library.
  4. ILL Requests and Mediated Management
    Patrons can request items online, and your library does manage ILL online using OCLC's FirstSearch. Your library approves (mediates) each ILL request before it gets sent to another library.
  5. Direct Request ILL and Unmediated Management

Patrons can request items online, and your library does manage ILL online. Your patrons may initiate unmediated requests directly from your library's ILL search interface. Your ILL librarians are, of course, able to create requests and control direct-request parameters.