RARA-AVIS: Free access to OCLC/WorldCat--an excellent research tool (not an ad so much as a work-around)

From: Todd Mason ( Todd.Mason@tvguide.com)
Date: 04 Feb 2002

FYI (and forwarded with permission):
-----Original Message----- From: jjnevins Sent: Monday, February 04, 2002 12:47 PM Subject: Free access to OCLC/WorldCat

On a librarians' mailing list someone pointed out that there is a way for the public to access OCLC/WorldCat, so that the non-librarians out there can find out who has what books.

1) Go to http://www.abebooks.com

2) Search for a book, magazine, or any other item a library is likely to carry. One of two things will happen:

a) Abebooks.com doesn't carry it. Do a sample search for a book, author Kuntz, title Kidsclick. The result will be "No books match the given criteria." Below that results heading is a link for "Find it at a local library." Click on that, and you will be brought to an WorldCat record. At the bottom of the record page is an option for finding the option in libraries with 10, 25, or 50 miles, within a state or province, in US or Canada, outside US or Canada, and worldwide; it will search for records relative to a postal/zip code. So if I tell it to search for libraries within 50 miles of zip code 77304 WorldCat tells me it's at Texas A&M.

b) Abebooks.com does carry the item. As a sample search I tell Abebooks.com to look for items with the title "Nick Carter Weekly." Abebooks has 37 items with this title. If that happens, I click on the Refine Search button in the upper right of the screen, and then tell it to search for items with the title "Nick Carter Weekly" in the country of Afghanistan. I choose Afghanistan because this is guaranteed to get me an error message. Sure enough, I get the "No books match this criteria" error message and the "Find it at a local library" link by which I can enter into WorldCat.

There's another trick for using WorldCat via Abebooks.com, too. If you do a search (as in 2b above) for "Sexton Blake Library" in the country of Afghanistan and then click on the "Find it at a local library" link, WorldCat returns a "No records found" error message. That's because searching WorldCat this way only searches for books. *But* it also gives you a general Book Search page by which you can search for any book in the WorldCat database.

So--there you go. Free access to WorldCat.

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