Thursday, October 19, 2006



Open Worldcat and were created by OCLC to help prospective patrons who are used to popular Internet search engines, but intimidated by library catalogs and databases, find library materials. Librarians will still want the sophisticated search options of the Worldcat database, but since patrons may find our materials this way, we should know about it.

Open Worldcat integrates OCLC records into commonly used search engines such as Yahoo! and Google. Searching for “Guns, Germs and Steel” will bring the user to a “Find in a library” search result, although they have to page down to the third page of results. If the user adds “+worldcat” or “find in a library” to a search, it will come up first. This leads to a record which asks for a zip code to find the closest libraries. Clicking on “St. Paul Public Library” takes them right to our catalog. They also have the option of writing a review of the book and purchasing it through an online bookseller. Only around 4 million of the 70 million Worldcat records are available through Open Worldcat right now. offers searching of all 70 million records from a clean, Google-like interface. Unlike MNLink, materials can be limited by format through a “refine your search” option. RSS feeds are available and anyone can add the Worldcat search box to their web page. If users have the Google Toolbar on their browser, it automatically has a Worldcat search, while the Yahoo! Toolbar and the Firefox browser search extension can be modified to have that option.

Thing to consider include the fact that not all libraries are OCLC members, that the zip code search may bring up college libraries that the patron cannot borrow from before public libraries, and that only one zip code is assigned to each library. St. Paul Public is assigned the zip code of the Materials Management Center, so patrons in Merriam Park will get Minneapolis as a first choice.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report, Andrea! I was wondering how many WorldCat records were available that way--a small percent. Jenny/HH