Why yes, I am still catching up. I’m ALWAYS catching up. Anything else? Anyway, WorldCat.org has officially launched: http://www.worldcat.org . It’s in beta. Over 10,000 libraries in the OCLC cooperative are searchable from this one little box. How groovy is that? (And if you’re having a hard time wrapping your head around this, or the fact that there are over 70 million entries for items in this database, check out http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/grow.htm, which’ll give you a window to watch stuff being added into the database in real-time. I found this fascinating. I am a nerd.)
From the front page you can do any kind of search that you’d do in the library — search for a person, subject, title, etc. I did a search for Robert J. Conley since I’ve been on kind of a westerns kick lately. I got 86 results. The results are listed on the right but a nav showing the authors and formats were on the left. I was expecting fiction books, but WorldCat surprised me by also offering sound recordings and other non-book material. Listings contain item details like ISBN, publication date, publisher, etc. Once you’ve found an item in which you’re interested, you can narrow down your search by country, state, province, or even postal code. There are additional tabs that allow space for reviews and details; I didn’t see any reviews for the Conley books I looked at.
The plain ol’ WorldCat search box is interesting enough, but WC has some other offerings as well. First off you can create an account with WorldCat and get a search box for WorldCat on your own site. You can also get a list of WC on other sites and a list of search toolbars and browser plugins that support WorldCat.
The main drawback to WorldCat is the main drawback of any online library catalog — most of the time the materials aren’t actually available. All you’re looking at is a catalog entry. But all the searches I did brought me results above and beyond the books or formats I would have expected. Time to head to the library….