Researching without Google
Searching for information to assist in my genealogical research often requires a Google search using search terms that I hope will provide some useful hits. Most of the time, I’m not really sure what I’m looking for; I’m just hoping something useful will eventuate. In addition to the benefits of Mocavo, I’ve now found Worldcat.
WorldCat.org lets you find an item of interest and then locate a library near you that owns it. Usually you will link directly to the item’s record on that library’s Web site. The actions available to you on that page will then vary from one library to another. You may be able to join a waiting list, reserve the item, check it out or view it online. Your search may produce direct links to articles and other resources in a library’s database. To access these resources, however, you may first be required to log in with a valid library membership.
For example, a search for an item on the history of Lancashire found a book that was held in the State Library of Victoria. As a member of this library, I can request the book or view the book online if it has been digitised.
What is Worldcat?
Libraries help people in their communities connect to a larger world. WorldCat does the same thing for libraries: Individual collections are linked together in a massive virtual collection. World Cat itemizes the collections of 72,000 libraries in 170 countries which participate in the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) global cooperative. It is built and maintained collectively by the participating libraries.WorldCat holds tens of millions of bibliographic records that represent more than one billion items. It encompasses hundreds of languages and all formats, including rapidly growing numbers of electronic resources and digital objects. As such. it offers web access to the largest repository of bibliographic data in the world.
WorldCat takes data about items in a library’s collection, relates it to basic institutional data such as the Web addresses of the library’s catalog, electronic content servers and other online services, and actively spreads it all across the Web via the cloud. It includes records for books, videos, serial publications, articles, recorded books and music, electronic books, sheet music, genealogical references, cultural artifacts, digital objects, Web sites and much more.
You can search for free or create an account which will allow you to create lists, tag items and create bibliographies. If you have a website or blog, you could also add a Worldcat search widgetwhich will allow your users to conduct a Worldcat search directly from your site. I have one on the sidebar of this blog.
The Search Process
Worldcat advanced search provides more granular ways to search, especially if you only have some vague search terms to start with. I used the search term: a genealogical gazetteer of England as a title search but I could also have added networked and author searches. There are also other options to narrow your search.
Your search results will provide some links to some items of interest. In this instance, I located a periodical of the Historic society of Lancashire. There is a copy available online and at the bottom of the results screen, a list of the libraries which hold a copy. If you enter a postcode in the ‘Enter your location’ box, Worldcat will include libraries near you in your search results, There is a copy of this periodical at the State Library of Victoria. As I am a member, I can locate and request this item.
Searching for the item on the State Library of Victoria catalogue.
How to search Worldcat