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OCLC's WorldCat (see WorldCat facts and statistics) is a "...the world's largest network of library content and services. WorldCat libraries are dedicated to providing access to their resources on the Web, where most people start their search for information....". The union catalogue lists 2+ billion holdings from more than 72,000 libraries in 170 countries. A new record is added every 10 seconds. It is perhaps the largest database of its kind for libraries worldwide. The database is built and maintained by a global cooperative of participating libraries and the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). WorldCat was created in 1971 so that libraries could share cataloguing information from a central database, increasing workflow efficiency and the ability to locate and loan materials. It took the OCLC cooperative 34 years from August 1971 to August 2005 to add 1 billion holdings to WorldCat. It has taken just seven years and eight months to add the next billion. WorldCat spans six millennia of recorded knowledge, from about 4800 B.C. to the present. It encompasses records for books, serials, sound recordings, musical scores, maps, visual materials, mixed materials and computer files.
OCLC member institutions use a variety of specific services to add, enhance and access WorldCat records, improving workflows and helping libraries save time and money. Anyone can search these collections at WorldCat.org, and users can find nearby libraries that hold an item, build personalized lists, easily create citations and post reviews and ratings. Other public views of WorldCat include WorldCat Identities, which provides summary pages for the name of every person, organization and fictional character in WorldCat (currently around 30 million); WorldCat Genres, which allows users to browse hundreds of genres from WorldCat; and WorldCat Kindred Works, a content-based service that helps users find similar materials of interest. In addition, the WorldCat Live! API provides a real-time stream of newly added records of library collections and published materials to WorldCat. WorldCat information is also syndicated through relationships with partners such as Google, Goodreads and EasyBib. When searching these and other popular online services, information seekers can connect to local libraries through WorldCat links and data services.
OAIster http://www.oaister.org/ – a project of the University of Michigan Digital Library Production Service – was merged with OAIster WorldCat in 2009. While still a union catalogue of more than 25 million records and archival resources, OAIster was built by harvesting digital collections using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). With considerable biomedical and scientific content, OAIster was a rich source of grey literature. Its inclusion into WorldCat has benefitted researchers and scholars from around the world as this content provides access to digital resources, and scholarly content in several subject areas. The content is also a good complement to Google scholar.
In 2012, WorldCat started to provide access to social networking and personalization tools to make the search-and-discovery experience in WorldCat more informative and appealing.
What is searchable?
Digital resources including: