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Submissions/Why the OCLC number is more important than the ISBN

After careful consideration, the Programme Committee has decided not to accept the below submission at this time. Thank you to the author(s) for participating in the Wikimania 2015 programme submission, we hope to still see you at Wikimania this July.

Submission no.
Title of the submission

Why the OCLC number is more important than the ISBN

Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)


Author of the submission

Peaceray / Raymond Leonard

E-mail address




Country of origin


Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)

Cascadia Wikimedia Users Group, board member & president, GLAM contact for the State of Washington, former part-time university reference librarian at Hawaii Pacific University

Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

The third of Wikipedia's Five pillars begins Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, .. The Wikimedia Foundations Mission statement says that the Foundation will “make and keep useful information from its projects available on the Internet free of charge.”

So why is that we place so much emphasis on the ISBN when we cite books? Why do we not more often employ the Online Computer Library Center's OCLC number? Employing the OCLC number allows the reader to click on the number to open a corresponding page that displays a list of the nearest libraries holding the item. This adheres more closely with Wikimedia principle in several ways.

  • It promotes free access to the information when the library is open to the public. Most users associate an ISBN with a means to buy a book. Linking to a list of libraries often makes a source more freely accessible.
  • The ISBN is only valid for material published in the last several decades. Publications are inaccessible if the user cannot find them. OCLC numbers are available for books many times that age and provide a means of finding pre-ISBN material.
  • OCLC records sometimes include links to free online sources. Many books published by 1923 are available online, and sometimes newer sources are available online either in their entirety or in a preview mode that may display the cited portions.
  • OCLC records sometimes include links to sources behind firewalls. While not ideal, accessing these sources may be available to students, faculty, staff, or library patrons at institutions that subscribe to the service.
  • OCLC records contain links to other media and types of publications not typically identified by an ISBN, such as individual articles, journals, audiovisual media, pamphlets, theses, and more.

This presentation will also include examples and strategies for determining the most effective use for using OCLC numbers in citation templates.

  • Legal & Free Culture
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?

I am going to try!

Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests

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  1. Daniel Mietchen (talk) 01:24, 21 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  2. I JethroBT (talk) 08:30, 25 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
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  4. Sage (Wiki Ed) (talk) 03:29, 11 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
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