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WorldCat for Beginners: How to Search the Global Library

If I had to make a list of the five most important library research tools for historians, I would put WorldCat at the top of the list without a moment’s hesitation. While in the past, scholars were limited to local libraries, print bibliographies and the occasional visit to other libraries, today WorldCat provides them a gateway to the global print collection. WorldCat thus levels the playing field between the top-tiers research libraries and smaller libraries, such as Falvey Memorial Library. Our history students can discover and request basically all the published books on any given topic with the help of WorldCat. If they would only knew about WorldCat!

Remember the student who told you that there is nothing published about her topic? Did she know about and search WorldCat? Remember the student who told you that the library does not have any books about his topic? Did he know about interlibrary loan and how to request books from other libraries via WorldCat? The majority of history students are unfortunately not familiar with WorldCat, and the few who do know about it are often intimidated by some of its unnecessarily complicated search features.

Falvey’s 2012 Research Center Intern, Matt Ainslie, has put together a Brief Introduction to WorldCat, a short online video tutorial that will introduce your students to WorldCat. His Brief Introduction to the Chicago Manual of Style has been widely popular with our students. At last glance, it was viewed more than 1,200 times. Given the unexpected popularity of the Chicago Style tutorial, I would like to hear your ideas and suggestions for additional tutorials.

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Last Modified: February 28, 2013