Written by Omika Mishra 

Unrecognizable man examining map while planning travel at home
Unrecognizable man examining map by Brady Knoll licensed under Pexels

WorldCat is a global cooperative catalog that lists the collections of 15,637 libraries in 107 countries that is managed by OCLC, Inc. The WorldCat database, which claims the distinction of being the world’s largest bibliographic database, is maintained collaboratively by subscribing member libraries. The catalog, found at worldcat.org, is linked to hundreds of library systems which results in a large number of available records. This tool can be an excellent way to find resources that your library’s catalog may not be able to display. This website is a cataloging and research tool utilized by librarians as well as the general public. Every day, librarians and other information professionals contribute to the growth of WorldCat. 

Anyone can look for books, music CDs, and videos using the Worldcat catalog, which holds almost everything that a patron is used to acquiring from a library. There are also numerous types of digital content available, such as downloadable audiobooks. Other resources available include citations to articles with links to the entire text; authoritative research materials, such as papers and images of local or historic value; and digital representations of rare things that aren’t available to the general public. Resources are available in a variety of languages since WorldCat libraries serve a varied range of communities in dozens of countries. 

There are multiple ways to access WorldCat from the UNT library homepage: 

  1. In the “Search It All” section of the “Start Your Research” box, users can type “WorldCat” and click on the first link, which will route them to “WorldCat FirstSearch” 
  1. In the “Database” section, users can search for “WorldCat” which will also lead them to “WorldCat FirstSearch”. 

Another way to access this tool is by going to the website directly by using the link https://www.worldcat.org/. On searching an item, the results shown can be refined by format, author, year, language, content, audience and topic. 

Screenshot from https://www.worldcat.org/ 

On selecting each result, patron can view information about the item including: 

  • Citation information: title, author, publisher, publication location and date, etc. 
  • Picture of the cover 
  • Preview of the contents, if available 
  • Table of contents, if available 
  • Ratings and reviews of the item, if available 
  • Information about other editions and formats, if available 
  • Links to similar items 

In addition, further down the page, a list of libraries where the item is present can be found where you can limit the search by entering the ZIP code of an area as shown in the image below. 

Screenshot from https://www.worldcat.org/ 

The reason that this system has thrived since its conception is the simple fact that WorldCat always depends upon Individual catalogers’ competence in making appropriate decisions concerning bibliographic resources. Human catalogers can make better decisions than any automated system. Hence, WorldCat is a great website for information professionals and patrons alike to look up items in the libraries around them. 

References (APA format):    

What is WorldCat? worldcat.org. https://www.worldcat.org/whatis/default.jsp 

Library guide for graduate research in english literary studies: How to use WorldCat. (2021). University of Alabama Libraries. https://guides.lib.ua.edu/c.php?g=699687&p=4963408 

Tags: WorldCat, Metadata, Information on books, Library items, Research and Bibliography 

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