Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Hard to Find Resources on a Topic? Try WorldCat

Everyone at one point in time has had probably an esoteric or challenging question that could be answered in an obscure book or other source in a far away place. WorldCat is now freely available to the public. WorldCat has over 1.3 Billion catalog records that go back from items listed ~4,000 years old to current. In the past, this database was just used by at Charleston County Public Libraris at the Interlibrary Loan Department at main. Now, everybody has access to it. Many people may be familiar with the fee based WorldCat that has been traditionally offered. For more information about WorldCat click the Read More link that follows this paragraph.

What does free access to WorldCat mean to the average person? Okay, say you want to find every published work held by practically 10,000+ libraries on Charleston South Carolina furniture. WorldCat is probably your best place to look for a comprehensive list.

In the past, people used redlightgreen.com with ~120 million item records or before that the Library of Congress Catalog ~29 million records to find hard to identify resources for possible borrowing using Interlibrary loan. The WorldCat database has changed the way people can find resources freely without cost with 1.3 billion item records.

Here are two example subject searches for comparison:

Furniture - South Carolina - Charleston -
Charleston County Public Library 11 hits
Red Light Green - 6 hits
Word Cat - 66 hits

Calhoun, John C - (A Person that Generates Numerous Results)
Charleston County Public Library 50 hits
Red Light Green - 280 hits
World Cat - 1,631 hits

Go on ahead and try your obscure topic(s) of interests and possibly find some new sources you have not seen before. Feel free to post your results.

Steven S.