WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (2024)

WorldCat is the manifestation of the creativity and innovation of the staff of OCLC and thousands of librarians. Unique in scale and unparalleled in data quality, WorldCat makes library collections findable and accessible around the world.

OCLC’s team of expert catalogers and data quality specialists constantly enrich WorldCat records with new and corrected information to ensure that WorldCat contains the highest quality records possible. Library staff members also enhance records through the OCLC Cataloging and Metadata Subscription (previously the OCLC Cataloging Subscription), making these records the industry standard for quality.

WorldCat helps you share what makes your library great to make all libraries better.

By enabling libraries to share high-quality library metadata and bibliographic records with each other, WorldCat has helped librarians dramatically reduce the time they spend on original cataloging. In calendar year 2020, OCLC member librarians copy cataloged 95% of their items from WorldCat, saving an average of 10 minutes per title. These librarians copy cataloged 17,101,022 titles during that year, so they saved around 3 million hours of time, collectively.

Partner content providers add records to WorldCat—sometimes before a resource is published—so library users can find the information they need as soon as it’s available.

WorldCat supercharges library collections

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (1)

The resources in your library power “light bulb moments” for learners and researchers every day. WorldCat supercharges your collection by aggregating and enriching your library metadata in its cloud-based infrastructure to power greater collection reach and usage.

I’m ready to harness the power of my collection

Make your collections visible.

Data about library collections, which house some of the most authoritative and unique resources in the world, is difficult to share directly from independent library catalogs. The collaborative nature of WorldCat helps libraries take advantage of linked data opportunities to lessen their workloads and to increase their online presence and discoverability. OCLC continues to explore linked data benefits for discovery, authority control, disambiguation and more as part of our work on numerous standards committees and community projects. OCLC also provides data services and downloadable data sets that help programmers and linked data practitioners create and improve their own applications with WorldCat data.

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (2)

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (3)

“Work with libraries...”

“As a major data hub, OCLC is well placed to develop linked data services for the library community, and they have made many far-sighted moves over a long period. What I welcome most of all is their willingness to work with libraries to understand how they can help us meet our goals.”

Chiat Naun Chew
Director, Cataloging and Metadata Services
Cornell University Libraries
Ithaca, New York, United States

Read the white paper

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (4)

“Promise of linked data...”

“You only have to store and index locally the fields that people want to search right then and there. The promise of the linked data universe is that we could go out and get all of that other stuff from somewhere else, live time, on the fly.”

Carl Stahmer
Director of Digital Scholarship
University of California, Davis
Davis, California, United States

Learn about the book

WorldCat brings together valuable information about collection items, electronic resources and the libraries that make them available.

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (5)

Provide access to knowledge.

If a library’s materials can’t be found, they can’t be used. WorldCat gives people the ability to view library collections from anywhere in the world, giving them access to a rich assortment of information much deeper than what can be found through a basic internet search. WorldCat plays a vital role in getting library resources in front of people both inside and beyond the library on the popular websites where they begin their searches. Librarians can connect library users to library resources by adding WorldCat records into their existing catalogs or through FirstSearch, WorldCat Discovery and WorldCat.org.

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (6)

“Natural search processes...”

“With WorldCat, library collections are globally integrated into the fabric of the web. Through natural search processes and the social networks people love, users find their way back to their local library.”

Jason Openo
Former Director of Planning & Program Development
The Alberta Library
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

See our partners

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (7)

“More visibility...”

“In the old days, people had to consult dozens of reference works—and still they would have incomplete information. The need for a one-stop shop for discovery grew incrementally. A need, a wish, which became a requirement… Because the more libraries, the more content, the more visibility. And that is what we want.”

Geert-Jan Koot
Former Head of the Rijksmuseum Research Library
Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands

Read Rijksmuseum’s story

Share your collections.

WorldCat provides the high-quality data that power discovery of library resources and make library collections visible to the largest resource-sharing community in the world. Since WorldCat is the foundation of WorldShare Interlibrary Loan, libraries can easily see the resources available from other libraries, borrow directly from them and share their resources to meet users' needs. WorldCat also allows borrowing libraries to link users directly to articles provided by lending libraries, giving users the instant access they expect.

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (8)

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (9)

“See the content we have...”

“Patrons at other libraries can see the content we have [in WorldCat], and those libraries are requesting to borrow that content from us. Because we're a growing campus, we have been a net borrower for many years. Now we're a net lender—everyone out in the world can see our electronic content, and that's been a really great change”

David Bryden
Director
High Point University Library
High Point, North Carolina, United States

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (10)

“Visible to many...”

“WorldShare Interlibrary Loan brings together the collection inventories of a lot of libraries [through WorldCat], thereby making them visible to many, including the unique stocks of the Bavarian State Library.”

Berthold Gillitzer
Assistant Head of User Services Department and Head of Document Delivery and Interlibrary Lending Unit
Bavarian State Library
Munich, Bavaria, Germany

Read the Bavarian State Library’s story

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (11)

Prove your value.

Librarians increasingly rely on data to make decisions about the library’s collections and services and to justify those decisions to library stakeholders and funding organizations. Through WorldShare Collection Evaluation, WorldCat helps librarians compare their collections and gather the data they need to analyze their collection development choices. Librarians can compare their analysis to their own usage and circulation statistics through WorldShare Report Designer to make decisions about the library’s priorities. In addition, GreenGlass uses the data in WorldCat to help libraries manage shared print collections.

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (12)

“Support student learning…”

“Certainly, our shelves have more materials than we would like them to have, which makes it difficult to expand... . [This SCS deselection project] gives us a better opportunity to have space where we can collaborate together to support student learning.”

Pam Rees
Library Director
Grand View University
Des Moines, Iowa, United States

Read Grand View’s group story

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (13)

“Collection-level analysis...”

“It’s only by making sure that our records are up to date and synchronized fully with WorldCat that we have the ability to do a collection-level analysis across the community, which will enable us to make decisions … [to] get best value from our collective operations as a research library community.”

John MacColl
University Librarian, University of St. Andrews
Former Chair, Research Libraries UK
St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland

See how RLUK uses WorldCat

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (14)

A bibliographic catalog

Everything that’s available through the library, including books, videos, photos and unique objects

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (15)

A knowledge base

Connection to the library’s e-resources with options for automatic record updates

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (16)

A registry of library profiles

Information about the library itself, including location, hours and services provided

Learn more about the information inside WorldCat

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (17)

“Don’t have to micro-manage...”

“The biggest benefit for me has been the time savings. I don’t have to micro-manage my electronic collections and holdings; I used to literally add titles one by one, in some cases. If I know this is happening automatically, I don’t have to worry about it.”

Sandy Cahillane
Electronic Resources and Reference/Instruction Librarian
Bay Path University
Longmeadow, Massachusetts, United States

Learn about the WorldCat community

Growing every day

WorldCat consists of a bibliographic catalog, e-resource holdings and library location information.

Discover what's in WorldCat

Getting better together

OCLC and libraries worldwide collaborate to ensure WorldCat records are the highest quality possible.

Learn about WorldCat quality

Planning for the future

WorldCat puts library resources in front of researchers and keeps up with changing research habits.

See why data strategy is key

Download the WorldCat brochure
Download the brochure (US Letter)
Download the brochure (A4)

WorldCat: World’s most comprehensive database of library collections | OCLC (2024)

FAQs

What has happened to WorldCat? ›

Maintenance of WorldCat Identities was suspended and the service will be discontinued as it is being replaced by WorldCat Entities. In August 2022, OCLC launched a "redesigned and reimagined" WorldCat.org website with the stated goal "to offer greater accessibility to the collections".

Is WorldCat a reliable source? ›

WorldCat.org is a resource for locating unique, trustworthy materials that you often can't find anywhere except in a library. By connecting thousands of libraries' collections in one place, WorldCat.org makes it easy for you to browse the world's libraries from one search box.

What is the difference between WorldShare and WorldCat? ›

Just as WorldCat provides a centralized resource for library data, WorldShare provides a centralized library services platform for managing activities, service delivery and workflows.

What is the online database that lets you search the collections of thousands of libraries? ›

WorldCat.org is an online catalog that allows you to search the collections of libraries in your community and thousands more around the world.

How many libraries use WorldCat? ›

WorldCat offers catalog records from over 72,000 libraries worldwide, but focuses largely on the U.S.

What sites are similar to WorldCat? ›

Top 7 worldcat.org Alternatives & Competitors
  • vitalsource.com. 6,667. 1,817. 11.04M. -13.85% ...
  • directtextbook.com. 240,318. 63,829. 178.74K. +54.81% ...
  • abebooks.com. 8,165. 3,119. 9.1M. -7.72% ...
  • exlibrisgroup.com. 3,218. 1,490. 21.5M. ...
  • gettextbooks.com. 232,415. 111,004. 186.74K. ...
  • redshelf.com. 34,597. 7,685. 1.93M. ...
  • biblio.com. 51,762. 19,014. 1.21M.

Who maintains the WorldCat database? ›

OCLC is a global library cooperative, and the information contained in Worldcat is maintained by the libraries and research organizations that are members of OCLC. There are over 90 million records pointing to almost 1.5 billion items in 400 languages, and the number of records in Worldcat grows daily.

What is WorldCat best used for? ›

WorldCat provides the high-quality data that power discovery of library resources and make library collections visible to the largest resource-sharing community in the world.

What is the website that searches all libraries? ›

WorldCat Discovery helps people easily find and get resources available at your library and in libraries worldwide through a single search of WorldCat and familiar, authoritative e-content collections.

Is WorldCat free? ›

Use our free online content to help with your research, whether it's finding a single article, tracing a family tree, learning a new language, or anything in between. Search for broad subject terms or database by name.

How do I get books from WorldCat? ›

Finding and getting eBooks
  1. Search for the eBook as you would any other resource in WorldCat. ...
  2. In your Search Results, look at the left side bar. ...
  3. Click on the link to the record that interests you.
  4. Scroll down to Find a copy online.
  5. Click on icon that says: "View eBook" or "Access Online"
Oct 17, 2022

How often is WorldCat updated? ›

OCLC updates the WorldCat knowledge base every month. See which collections and providers were added or enhanced this month. Collection data is refreshed on a rolling basis. The frequency of the data updates varies by provider and how often they send their data to the knowledge base team.

What database do I need to search for books? ›

The World's largest book database™ & ISBN API. ISBNdb gathers data from various public sources like libraries and merchants to compile a vast collection of unique book data searchable by ISBN, title, author, or publisher.

Is Google books a library database? ›

The Google Books Library Project is aimed at scanning and making searchable the collections of several major research libraries. Along with bibliographic information, snippets of text from a book are often viewable. If a book is out of copyright and in the public domain, the book is fully available to read or download.

Does an online library count as a database? ›

An online resource that contains a wealth of information and articles in the form of print sources like newspapers, magazines, journals and reference materials can also be called a library database.

How do I access WorldCat? ›

Sign in to WorldCat.org
  1. Click Sign In on the WorldCat.org homepage.
  2. Enter your username and password.
  3. Click SIGN IN.
May 17, 2024

Is OCLC the same as WorldCat? ›

WorldCat is the manifestation of the creativity and innovation of the staff of OCLC and thousands of librarians.

What is the difference between FirstSearch and WorldCat discovery? ›

Choose FirstSearch if the primary need is for specific, precise searching of WorldCat. Choose WorldCat Discovery to provide users with single-search access to your library's resources, including licensed content collections.

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