February 5, 2007  Vol. 10 No. 5  

WorldCat.org offers new Web site and search box features for discovery of items held in libraries worldwide

Enhancements allow greater flexibility in search, more visibility for detailed content, options to customize

By Bob Murphy

WorldCat.org, the Web site and search box that offers public access to the catalogs of libraries worldwide, has added new features and functionality that enhance the discovery experience and make it possible to customize the downloadable search box, search and find materials in Chinese, and link to libraries nearby via IP address location.

New features and functionality on the WorldCat.org site will be added continuously as the service continues to progress.

WorldCat.org allows Web users to search the catalogs of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide. The WorldCat.org site offers a downloadable search box to allow access to the world’s largest resource for discovery of materials held in libraries.

Among the most recent enhancements to WorldCat.org:

  • More visibility for evaluative content and Web resource links

    Individual item records reached from WorldCat.org search results now include links to supplemental Web content on the top-level page. Previously displayed beneath the “Details” tab, these links can include publisher-provided item descriptions, author biographies and Web sites, tables of contents and content excerpts. Additional links may be provided with the heading “Web Resources,” which may give a user access to content related to the displayed item. If the displayed item is a digital object—such as an electronic book, or a digitally preserved photo, document or artifact—the link may provide direct viewing or retrieval of the object.

  • Faceted browse now allows user to expand search category options.

  • The faceted browse feature of WorldCat.org search results now allows a user to expand the abbreviated results within each facet via a “Show More” link. Faceted browse allows a user to filter search results by categories, or facets, using the left-hand Refine Your Search panel. This dynamic navigation further leverages WorldCat’s structured metadata and helps users who may have difficulty narrowing a large result set understand the refinement options available to them.

  • New options for those who want to download the WorldCat.org search box.

    The downloadable WorldCat.org search box—which can be placed on any Web site, blog or other destination—has been updated. The search box is now available in two widths and is now transparent, allowing better visual integration with the displaying Web page, and styling of the associated text is easily modified.

  • Chinese language added to the Find in a Library interface.

    The WorldCat Web interface is now available in Simplified and Traditional Chinese. As with the other five available languages—English, Spanish, French, German and Dutch—the WorldCat interface automatically detects the language encoding selected within a user’s browser and displays the appropriate version. Interface language can also be manually switched at any time using links at the bottom of any Find in a Library page.

  • Automatic geographic location code by IP address.

    The WorldCat.org service will determine a geographic location for each user based on IP address, even when the user has never before entered a postal code to view a list of local libraries. The automatic display of library lists should connect searchers to the library nearest them.

WorldCat connects libraries of all types and sizes, from giant research libraries to small public libraries around the world. It enables people to find what they’re looking for in library collections irrespective of where they are located.

WorldCat was created in 1971 and is maintained by OCLC and its member libraries that use information from and contribute to the database for cataloging and interlibrary loan.

As the world’s largest computerized library catalog, WorldCat includes not only entries from large institutions, such as the Library of Congress, the British Library, the National Library of Finland and Singapore National Library, but also from small public libraries, art museums and historical societies. WorldCat contains descriptions of library materials and their locations. The database provides access to the electronic full text of some articles and books as well as images and sound recordings. It spans 4,000 years of recorded knowledge. Every 10 seconds a library adds a new record to WorldCat.  (Watch the WorldCat database grow in real time at http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/grow.htm.)

Try WorldCat.org from the site: http://www.worldcat.org/.

Find out more about the free downloadable search box:  http://www.worldcat.org/wcpa/servlet/org.oclc.lac.affiliate.GetSearchBox