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Distance Learners: Theology & Ministry Research: WorldCat

The purpose of this guide is to guide distance learners in the use of the library resources and services, particularly those that pertain to theological research.

What Is WorldCat?

WorldCat is the largest library union catalog in the world!

  • What does WorldCat catalog? Not just books, dissertations, and journals, but also DVDs, musical scores, Web pages, and much more.
  • What am I searching exactly when I search WorldCat? The holdings of over 17,000 libraries in 170 countries and territories.
  • What can WorldCat do for me as a researcher? Besides allowing you to search the world's largest union catalog, it provides an easy way for you to request interlibrary loans (ILL) of books not held by the ORU Library.
  • What does WorldCat look like? It currently has two interfaces FirstSearch and the Web version. See the images on the far right.

As of January 2019, opens new windowWorldCat contains nearly 448 million bibliographic records withmore than 2.7 billion holdings records.

About OCLC, creator of WorldCat

  • OCLCis a worldwide library cooperative which launched WorldCat in 1971 as the OCLC Online Union Catalog.
  • The mission of OCLC is to "improve access to the information held in libraries around the globe" and reduce costs through collaboration.
  • Member libraries continue to build the WorldCat database at the rate of more than one new record every two seconds.
  • In addition, member libraries fill one interlibrary loanrequest every 1.4 seconds.

5 Uses for WorldCat

  1. To see what books other libraries might have on a particular topic that the ORU Library does not own.
  2. To locate a nearby library that owns a book not currently accessible through theORU Library.
  3. To initiate an interlibrary loan (ILL) request for a book or a dissertation from another library.
  4. To find out what books a particular author has written.
  5. To find out whether a book written in a language you don't know has been translated into a language you do know.

Search Options Available in the FirstSearch Interface

Simple Search : Search by keyword, author, title, ISBN, and/or year.

Advanced Search : Search by the simple search fields plus many more including material type, publisher, and ISSN.

Limit Options: On the advanced search and on any results page, a search may be limited by year, language, and number of libraries as well as by type, such as books, internet resources, visual materials, sound recordings, serials, musical scores, and maps, and even subtypes such as dissertations, fiction, non-fiction, juvenile, non-juvenile, braille, etc. Limit by author or subject headings by clicking the limit button in the gray tool bar at the top.

Sort Options: on any results page, where there is 500 or fewerresults, either select the Sort iconSortat the top of the screen or click the Options link in the Navigation menu. Choose how you want the list sorted and selectSet to sort.

Expert Search: This search box allows you to enter logical search strings, which are made up of search terms prefaced by field codes (e.g., ti: or au:) and combined with Boolean operators (AND, OR, or NOT) and/or special characters (wildcards). You may need to ask a librarian for help in constructing such a search strategy.

WorldCat Interfaces

Screenshot of First Search's WorldCat Interface

Screenshot of the WorldCat.org interface