No…that’s not what I mean by WorldCat.
WorldCat, short for ‘world catalog’, is a service which allows library users to look up articles, books, DVDs, and more to see which libraries in their area own a copy. Thousands of libraries, not only in the United States, but around the world participate in this service and more content is being added every day.
In a distributed learning environment with a digital library, sometimes we forget about the physical materials available in our own communities. But WorldCat gives us a way to quickly search those local holdings without even leaving the house. Yes!
So, how does it work?
Simple! Once you connect to www.worldcat.org you will immediately see a search box:
Select the proper tab at the top or select ‘advanced search’ if you’d like a little more search control. Then input the title of the work you’re looking for and press search.
The next page will show you a list of potential matches:
If you don’t see a match on the screen, try using the filters on the left to narrow down the results. If you do see the title you’re interested in, just click on it to be taken to a new screen where you can determine which libraries in your area own the work.
On the new page, scroll down about half-way to a section labeled ‘Find a copy in the library’. Here, you can input a city or zip-code to determine local holdings (click on the image to enlarge it):
I know what you might be thinking…”that’s great, but those results are for academic institutions that I don’t attend.” True, but most public universities allow members of the community to come in and use their resources within the library. Permissions to check out materials will vary by location, but WorldCat makes it easy to get in touch with a librarian so you can determine your access privileges.
And don’t forget about your good ol’ public library! Even if they don’t own a work, most public libraries participate in loan agreements (many with academic libraries!) so they can get a hold of what you need. Since Fielding’s interlibrary loan service is limited to articles and book chapters, your public library might be just the place to snag a copy of a book without having to purchase it!
Will WorldCat always find the work you need in your area? Unfortunately, no; it’s not a 100% guarantee. But the more tools you have at your disposal, the better chance you have of freely accessing the information you need.
You can always contact you Fielding librarians for additional help and suggestions in locating resources. Happy hunting!