Speaking Notes from a Tech Talks Presentation by Nancy Reis, December 12, 2007

What is WorldCat.org?

"The Open WorldCat Program and WorldCat.org are both initiatives designed to make the collections and services of WorldCat-participating libraries more visible on the open Web, outside of the library environment."-- From OCLC's Frequently Asked Questions about open-Web access to WorldCat

What You Can Do on WorldCat.org Without an Account

You can use all of WorldCat.org's basic searching features without registering on the site.

Search for Books and Other Library Materials

  • The search is by keyword--not Boolean enabled.
  • You can limit your search to selected fields by utilizing the advanced search.
  • You can further refine your search by using the facets in the sidebar.
  • You can sort the search results list by various criteria:  relevance, author, title, date (increasing), or date (decreasing).

View Information About a Library Item

  • View details about the item.
  • Read user-generated reviews of the item.
  • Bookmark the item.
  • Generate and/or export a citation.
  • Locate a library that has the item.
  • Link to services within your own library.
    (Only available if you are searching from a computer within your member library's network.)

Search for Public User-Generated Lists

  • Search by list name or description.
  • You can customize your view of a public list.
      • Sort by author, title, published date, or added date.
      • View by details and notes.
      • View by citations.

Search for Contacts

  • Search by user name or first or last name.

What You Can Do on WorldCat.org With an Account

After registering on the system, you can do all of the above, plus:

Generate Your Own Public or Private Lists of Library Materials

  • Create an unlimited number of lists.
  • Add up to 250 items per list.
  • Invite other WorldCat.org members and non-members to view your public lists.
  • Export lists as CSV (comma-delimited) files or as bibliographic citations.

Contribute Reviews and Factual Notes

Contribute Tables of Contents

Edit the Factual Notes or Tables of Contents Contributed by Other Users

Ways We Use WorldCat.org in the Digital Lab

  •  We obtain information for some metadata record creation from corresponding WorldCat records.
  • We locate library materials we may want to borrow for digitization.
  • When answering e-reference questions, we often direct patrons to WorldCat.org to locate library materials in their local area.
  • For the convenience of our users, we link Portal to Texas History and Digital Collections metadata records with OCLC identifiers to corresponding records in WorldCat.org.

Comparing WorldCat.org with Open WorldCat and WorldCat via FirstSearch


Open WorldCat
WorldCat.org WorldCat via FirstSearch
Coverage About 3.5 million records for the most widely owned items in WorldCat.
Entire WorldCat database.  Only items held by FirstSearch-subscribing libraries are displayed in the search results.  Simultaneously searches GPO, ArticleFirst, Medline, and ERIC for article citations.

Entire WorldCat database.

GPO, ArticleFirst, Medline, and ERIC must be searched independently.
Access Serendipitous.  May find records as part of a regular Web search engine search or a visit to online bookseller.

Universal.  Available to anyone with a Web browser.
Must use through a subscribing library.
Search Method
Web search engine such as Google or Yahoo! or search on partner sites such as Amazon.com or Alibris.

Keyword with further refinement by facet.  Advanced search allows limit by selected fields.  Does not support Boolean operators.
A variety of searchable keyword and phrase indexes.  Supports Boolean operators.
Item Description
Basic details.
Basic details.
Full cataloging information.

Time Outs
  After 1 hour of inactivity.
After 15 minutes of inactivity.

For more information about these three versions of WorldCat, see OCLC's Frequently Asked Questions about open-Web access to WorldCat.

For a more extensive comparative table of features of these three versions of WorldCat, see OCLC's Comparison of WorldCat's public views.

More Information

WorldCat Help provides an extensive FAQ.

About the Author:  Library Associate Nancy Reis works for the UNT Libraries' Digital Projects Unit.