Tuesday, August 08, 2006

WorldCat Beta

Barbara Fisher reported on the ACRLog this morning that WorldCat is Open for Searching. This means instead of having to access WorldCat through a library, users will be able to search the free beta version. WorldCat's Beta search engine appears to be user friendly with a single search box and colorful icons depicting different media available. In describing WorldCat, the web site states:

"WorldCat's coverage is both deep and wide. You can search for popular books, music CDs and videos—all of the physical items you're used to getting from libraries. You can also link to many new kinds of digital content, such as downloadable audiobooks you can listen to on many portable MP3 players. You may additionally find authoritative research materials, such as documents and photos of local or historic significance; abstracts and full-text articles; and digital versions of rare items that aren't available to the public. Because WorldCat libraries serve diverse communities in dozens of countries, resources are available in many languages. "- What is WorldCat

I did a quick search for my "favorite book" and found eleven libraries with pajamas, none of which were school or academic libraries (shocking). As Fischer mentions in her post, results are posted in an Amazon.com-like friendly way and include a link to Amazon for book purchases.

I liked the "Find in a Library Page." On it there is a set of tabs including libraries, details, subjects, and reviews. Users are able to type in their zip code and locate the book in the nearest library. Results are displayed with the closest to a location first and each entry has library information, often the library home page or catalog, located next to the book. If you sign up for a free account, it is then possible to add information and reviews to individual entries (again, similar to amazon).

Other user options include a search box to place on blogs, WorldCat browser tools and WorldCat links. A widget! I was a bit disenchanted by the amount of personal information in required fields necessary for adding the search box to a blog; Name (first, last), email address, country, organization name, and web site. At this point I do not see the service important enough on a personal blog to jump through those hoops. However, I could see the possibility of uses on a library blog since many include links to their own catalog. Users not able to access a particular academic library for a title would be able to find the book in a library near them. I may consider this at some point for the blogs I have in my library. Plus, I imagine this process is to give some type of authenticity to anyone wanting to add book reviews.

8/8/06 Update:

Some point is here and gone. This afternoon I signed up with WorldCat and placed the search box widget into my children's book review blog. As mentioned above, all of the books being reviewed have links to the library catalog for the author, illustrator, and book title. Often there are additional links for like reads and internet resources. If a blog reader does not have access to "my" library, the catalog links are moot. So, I placed the widget into the sidebar with a "Search WorldCat" header and the following text, "Interested in a book reviewed here? Users who are not part of the University community may search WorldCat to locate a particular book in a nearby library."

Yes, I know. It didn't take me long to cave on a new widget.

8/9/06 Another Update:

I am weak. As of this evening the WorldCat widget is here; twice. I thought it made a fun addition in case someone was interested in reading on of the childrens titles discussed. Or even possibly the library stuff, okay literature, mentioned.

8/11/06 One more update:

I convinced my boss that the Worldcat Beta link would be a nice addition to the listing of available library databases. We show access to the original WorldCat search engine, but patrons will be able to utilize the beta version without any authentication necessary. Heck, if we can have a google widget (not my idea) on that page, WorldCat Beta should be a given.

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jmnlman said...

I'm on a used book list [I'm sure they would prefer the term antiquarian] there apoplectic about this apparently they thought it would provide data on every addition of every book ever published and shockingly enough it doesn't. Funny stuff.

Lynn said...

Wow! Every book published? Now there is a project indeed.

My boss mentioned that before OCLC began they asked library's for permission to add them to this search version. Probably one of the reasons it is a bit limited at this point.

Antiquarian, indeed. :-)