Washington OCLC Group Services

Washington OCLC Group Services comprises a large group of libraries in Washington State that subscribe to basic OCLC services through an OCLC Group Services contract executed and managed by the Washington State Library. Three services are included:

The Washington OCLC Group Services contract with OCLC began as a project in 2007 with the immediate goal of creating a statewide catalog comprising the OCLC WorldCat holdings of as many Washington libraries as possible. OCLC’s policy was to sell a group catalog only to a group of libraries, and so the first step in the process was to recruit libraries to join Washington OCLC Group Services, thus forming the required group.

The project was funded with federal LSTA (Library Services & Technology Act) dollars from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Funding for the statewide catalog itself was discontinued in 2013, due to relatively low usage, although a version of the catalog is still searchable on the open web. To see the original “scopes” (by type of library, and by geographical region) go to the Advanced Search page, and scroll down to the “Held by Library” section.

A secondary goal was to provide a mechanism and inducement for smaller public libraries to upload their holdings into OCLC’s WorldCat database, thus increasing access and awareness of unique library holdings around the state, and to provide the advantages of OCLC cataloging and ILL services to more libraries. To this end, subsidies were offered to encourage libraries without some of these OCLC services to join. Multi-year subsidies were provided to eight libraries: seven public libraries, and one tribal library.

Although Group Services was not intended or promoted as a discount or cost-saving arrangement OCLC’s stated intent was to provide “break even” pricing to participating libraries there were “economies of scale” built into the FirstSearch portion of the package, and it was determined that dissolving the group would result in higher costs for at least some member libraries. For this reason, the contract has been continued past the end of its original purpose, which was the creation of a statewide catalog.

Currently the contract between OCLC and the Washington State Library, acting on behalf of participating member libraries, is renewed annually, the contract period running from July 1 through June 30 each year. OCLC frequently offers multi-year options which cap annual cost increases for the specified period. The current (2020-2025) contract has a 3.75% cap on annual cost increases. In addition, the contract includes a clause ensuring that Washington Group Services members will not be charged a higher rate of increase in any given year than OCLC charges its members at large, outside of the Group Services contract.

For information on OCLC cost increases, and other WA OCLC Group Services updates, visit the WA OCLC Group Services news page.

Contact Information

For more information on the Washington OCLC Group Services project, follow one of the links in the menu in the upper right column on this page, or contact

Jude Guzzy, Cooperative Projects Librarian
Washington State Library | Office of the Secretary of State
E-mail: j[email protected]
Telephone: (253) 292-6814

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Funded in part by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).