A huge thanks to Felicia for continuing to celebrate our libraries and letting me jump in with a post! I was supposed to share this last year, but time got away from me… better late than never, right?
Using WorldCat to rock your library cards!
If you’re at all like me, you’re sporting more than one library card. Maybe you have *ahem* seven. If you have even two, though, you need to know about and use WorldCat. As a former historian, I learned to use WorldCat to teach down books from all over the world that I need for my research. And I think that most people use WorldCat for academic purposes. And I think that’s why many readers don’t know about it. But believe me, using WorldCat will help you rock those library cards!
What is WorldCat?
Sorry cat lovers, WorldCat has nothing to do with cats. The “cat” is short for catalog. As in the World Catalogue of library books. That’s right, it’s the home of ALL THE LIBRARIES! Every library that has a catalog (which should be all of them, minus probably public schools) reports it’s catalog to WorldCat. Universities are definitely in there and I’ve used WorldCat to get me books from Switzerland, England, France and Poland before, so it’s not exaggerating when it says World!
How do I use WorldCat?
That’s the best part – WorldCat is SO user friendly! You simply type in WorldCat.org or from your smart device worldcatmobile.org. There’s also some apps, but I’ve never used them.
So you get a screen that looks like this:
And you can browse by topic, author, etc. I rarely do that, now that I’m not using WorldCat for research purposes. Instead I type in the title of the book I’m looking for. Let’s say I’m looking for a book we’ll be reading this month at boom club: How the Duke Was One. I type it in and viola! There it is, result number 1 (this is the mobile site, but desktop is very similar):
See how it says “Find in a library”? When I click on that, it gives me the option to search for libraries by zip code. So I type mine in and tada! It gives me the list of ALL THE LIBRARIES that have a copy of this book, in order of distance from me. Sometimes that is very far away and I’m sad. But there’s other times, like in the instance of this book that 5 libraries that I have a card for have that book.
Why use WorldCat? Can’t I just go to the library website?
Sure you can! But with one search I now know which of the libraries I have cards for carry that book. Way faster. And I can click on the library from WorldCat to go to the libraries listing of the book. This is my only complaint – some sites don’t manage their links properly so you have to manually go to their site for the book once you know it’s there. But that’s rare, in my experience.
Even better, if I click on the book at the closest library and discover it has a waiting list, I already know if it’s the only place I can find the book. Maybe one of the other 4 places I have cards for will have the book available immediately (or a shorter wait list)!
Having lots of library cards is super handy but, IMO knowing how to locate the books you want quickly makes them even better. So if you haven’t tried WorldCat, please do! It’ll help you rock those library cards!
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