WorldCat Turns You Into A Library Power User

We’ve written before about the money-saving goodness called your local public library, but a lot of readers may not know about a powerful online search tool, WorldCat, that lets you search the holdings of 57,000 libraries in over 100 countries. Even better: “Tell it what book you’re looking for and your zip code or city, and it will pinpoint the nearest library that has the book.”

You can perform searches on the home page of the official site, or append “worldcat” to a book search in Google or Yahoo. There’s also several toolbar extensions you can use if you like that sort of thing. WorldCat results link directly to your nearby library’s online public access catalog, to save you more time. It also lets you search magazines and journals, and audio and video formats.

“WorldCat” [Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools]

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. ViperBorg says:

    Sweet. Useful for college students such as myself.

  2. DePaulBlueDemon says:

    WorldCat rocks my world.

  3. ElizabethD says:

    My world has just been rocked, too! Coolness.

  4. travelinlibrarian says:

    Just to clarify, WorldCat will only report the ‘participating libraries’ so there is a chance that there may be a library closer to you with that book than WorldCat is reporting, especially if you’re in more rural areas.

  5. azntg says:

    My library system must not be in the Worldcat system. Eh well, so much for convenience (for now)

  6. magic8ball says:

    I luvs me some WorldCat. My university library is also part of an interlibrary loan system, so once I find a library that has the book, they’ll ship it to my library and let me borrow it.

  7. lyndyn29 says:

    Yeah, just to clarify, the OP refers to, a user-friendly, Amazonified interface to the OCLC WorldCat database. OCLC is much more powerful but not particularly easy to use, and is also a subscription service. Many public libraries (and most academics) have access to OCLC, even if their own holdings aren’t listed. is a free, public website.

  8. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    I love the library. I have been reading graphic novels for free for years now. I almost feel guilty…almost.

  9. Another service that might be available is that if your state has a land-grant university, USUALLY as a taxpaying citizen, you have access to that university’s library as part of its land-grant status. Often free, sometimes for a small administrative fee. Sometimes the checkout times are pretty short (since you’re not a student), but you can get almost ANYTHING through a big state U system.

    And if there’s a college in your town, most colleges allow townies to get library access in some form as well (sometimes you have to pay). Although the workaround is that chances are your public library ILLs with your local college library, so you can just get stuff free through interlibrary loan ANYWAY.

    Librarians = Meaty WorldCat. :)

  10. girly says:

    I have given out this tip for years!

    love it!

    Even if what you find isn’t at your library, you can use the catalog numbers and bibliography info to have your librarian pursue interlibrary loans.

    I have borrowed materials from as far away as Nebraska!