Being a librarian, I have been using a resource called WorldCat for about 10 years now, since I was in library school. In the past few years, the company that provides WorldCat has made it more open and available online for anyone to search and find out which libraries hold a book of particular interest.
Since getting into genealogy, I’ve realized how useful WorldCat can be for other genealogists and I try to promote it as much as possible and I use it myself quite extensively for this reason too. I was using it last week and noticed they added a new feature, called “Lists.” I was excited about this feature – it can be of great help for tracking collections. I currently use DabbleDB to keep track of some of the books I want to keep my eye on, but I am also experimenting with this.
To use WorldCat Lists, you must register for the site. After you do a search for a book and bring up its record, there is an option to Save It. You then have a drop down box to create a name for the list, or to add it to pre-exisitng list. Pretty neat!
You could create a list to keep track of resources at
- a specific library
- a specific family surname
- a specific library
- a specific state
I use DabbleDB to do each of these options. Currently, you can only add a book to a list one at a time, but you can add a book to multiple lists. It would be nice if you could add a book to more than one list at once and if there was some type of indication when looking at a WorldCat record if that item is already on one of your lists.
As an example of the feature, the book in the screenshot below was written by a descendant of Commodore Vanderbilt that I found while working on my Vanderbilt genealogy research. In addition to adding this to my list of books for the Vanderbilt surname and I also added it to my list of books available here at Vanderbilt’s main library.
Once part of your list, you can go to that list and do quite a bit —
- get the URL to share the list with others
- an RSS feed is available so others can keep track of what you are adding to your list
- lists can be made public or private
- can export to a spreadsheet
- can print in a printer-friendly format
- choose from multiple views to look at the items in your list, whether it be by the Worldcat record display, by book covers, or by citation view
- can export reference list in one of five formats — as HTML, RSS, or in three different formats recognized by bibliographic management software
- the format of the citation can be changed via a drop-down box to one of four formats – APA, MLA, Turabian, Chicago, or Harvard
As part of your “lists,” WorldCat provides 3 already established ones – Things to Check Out, Things I Recommend, and Things I Own. If there a way as I mentioned above to look at a record and see who put it on their “Things I Own” list, this would be a great way for genealogists to see what others have and possibly help with Look-ups. Methinks I will be writing to WorldCat about that!
WorldCat has a number of other social features that are worth checking out too. They also have profiles, so I think I will go in and update mine. You can also add a WorldCat app to your Facebook profile or to the Firefox browser. As a registered user of WorldCat, you can also add reviews to any book.
If you are interested in keeping up with all that WorldCat is doing, you can subscribe to their blog.