Worldcat.org is the world’s largest network of library content and services. Users can search many libraries at once for a particular item and locate the nearest library that contains the item. Items can be checked out, which usually requires that the user belong to the library. Worldcat searches also return results from research articles and digital items, such as audiobooks and ebooks, that can be directly downloaded and viewed. There is a feature called “Ask a librarian” which allows users to link directly to a librarian at libraries that offer this service. Users can post reviews of an item or contribute information about it.
Content about an item contributed by a user may be edited by other users, much like a wiki. Worldcat contains library content from all over the world, so content is available in many languages. Users can search the database by keyword, title or author. The results can be filtered by year, audience, content, format or language. Search results return a list of items found. Clicking on an item in the list returns a page which gives more information about the item, followed by a list of libraries that have the item ordered by nearest library first. Clicking on a library link brings up that library’s catalog entry for the item. A direct link to the library is also usually included in the results. Registered users can create and maintain lists and bibliographies.Show more screenshots »
WorldCat.org was created in 1971 by the OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), a global cooperative of libraries. The site is maintained by OCLC member libraries. The database contains more than 90 million records pointing to 1.4 billion items.
Worldcat.org does not really have any direct competition. Google Books offers a huge database of content that is available in electronic form, but much of the contents contain only a limited preview of the item. Amazon.com is the world’s largest bookseller and provides a good deal of information about the books it sells, but is entirely commercial.
The WorldCat.org site has a clean and fairly uncluttered look and feel. The home page has a search box for searching books, DVDs, CDs and articles. A more advanced search is available on the advanced search page. Navigation is intuitive and the site is very responsive. Most searches are returned in a matter of a few seconds. There is no advertising displayed on the Worldcat site.
Registration to Worldcat.org is free and is not required to use the search function of the site. Users wishing to maintain lists or bibliographies must register. The registration process asks for username, password and email address. Validation of the email address is not required.
Registration is free and there is no premium membership offered to the Worldcat.org site.
Worldcat.org is recommended to anyone searching for a particular library item. It is an excellent site for locating hard to find resources, and provides a unique service to its users. The search function works very well, and the location results do a good job of returning the closest library possessing the item. The site is recommended to anyone doing research on a particular topic or subject.