Policy: Use of OCLC and Record Identifiers


The presence of OCLC control numbers in bibliographic records makes it possible to match records in Alma when materials are owned by multiple Alliance libraries. The OCLC control number provides a match point that simplifies record loading, record maintenance, and other technical operations. Requiring use of a common bibliographic utility (OCLC) ensures that the records of Alliance libraries can be merged and maintained with greater ease in a shared ILS. If multiple bibliographic utilities were allowed, individual institutions might lower their cataloging costs. However, such an environment would significantly increase the complexity and cost of operating a shared system.


  • Members must use OCLC as their primary bibliographic utility
  • Members must use the Unique OCLC identifier as their primary match point when importing records into the Alma NZ or IZ, except in cases where an Alliance policy or best practice has been established to allow the use of a different match point
  • The following types of bibliographic records are not required to contain OCLC numbers nor to have holdings set in WorldCat:
    • brief records created for ordering purposes when no OCLC record is available (see Minimum Acquisitions Data policy and Alma Network Zone policy)
    • personal-copy course reserves
    • titles borrowed on ILL from outside the Alliance
    • inventory control of equipment
    • records representing titles in a knowledge base (e.g. Alma CZ records)
    • Marcive shipping list records
    • host bibliographic records for bound-withs
    • suppressed bibliographic records
    • record sets provided by vendors other than OCLC, including leased book sets
  • Whether records contain OCLC or non-OCLC record numbers, the MARC 035 identifier value(s) should each be qualified with the source of the number (e.g., (OCoLC), (CaSfKan), etc.). The only exception to this is for GOBI brief order records.


Current phase: Approved

Written by: Bibliographic Mandates Review Group

Approved by: Collaborative Workforce Team on 03/08/2016; Technical Services Working Group on 02/16/2016; SCTS Team on 11/12/2020

Last updated: 11/16/2020

Nature of last update: revised policy