THE IN’S AND OUT’S OF OPEN WORLDCAT AND WORLDCAT.ORG
Open Worldcat and Worldcat.org 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 “
Wordcat.org 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