Happy Holidays everyone for this blog I am going to discuss and old tool. As librarians we probably have all used WorldCat.org or the paid database version of this useful e-resource. For those of you who may not have heard of it, this tool is a database of library catalogs from around the world.
Now you may be asking yourself why is he going over WorldCat.org? It has been around since 1971 in one form or another. Well, I think that sometimes going back and giving overviews of older tools is good idea because with all of us being busy we might not notice new features or even realize that the data available has expanded or been reduced for any given tool. Also for those institutions that have distance learning programs where users may be in other states this WorldCat gives librarians access to library catalogs from all over the United States.
The first thing that I would like to point out is that there is a free version available at http://www.worldcat.org/. It can be accessed by anyone who has an internet connection. This is great for libraries that have lost there subscription to the OCLC First Search database version of this electronic resource or those institutions which may be on a budget.
Next the folks at WorldCat have gone mobile. There are now apps of this tool for iPhone and Android. This is pretty cool because now you can search for books and other material through your smart phone and other devices without having to worry about screen compatibility issues. It is also useful for libraries that are trying mobile reference but whose online catalog does not have a device ready platform.
Some new innovative features that librarians may want to check out include social media function where users can rate as well as review materials and the WorldCat Identities Network. This latter feature is most intriguing. It allows users to create visual maps between different subjects or people. You can see their interrelationships in expanded data trees that are easy to interpret. The WorldCat Identities Network also lists books and other materials connected with with your searches. It is a very power research tool that can be a great asset to public, school, and academic school librarians as well as other educators.
WorldCat.org is a powerful tool that contains the records of 2 billion items. It allows users to find books, articles, video, audio, and other materials that their local libraries may not have but which may be obtainable through inter-library loan. WorldCat now features innovative new features which turn it into a learning and social media tool. The electronic resource is a must for librarians no matter if they are in academic, public, or school libraries.