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Open WorldCat – A way to add value to government documents

WorldCat is a like a giant library catalog to the holdings of 9000 member libraries worldwide. For years librarians and savvy library patrons have depended on this resource to find out-of-town materials.

Recently as part of a strategy to bring the power of librarianship to the Web, OCLC introduced Open WorldCat, which has opened the catalogs of the world’s libraries to major search engines such as Google and Yahoo. This allows book results to pop up along side web search results. By entering their zip code, a patron can quickly and easily find the nearest library that holds the book.

This month Open WorldCat went a step farther. They invited users (not just librarians) to add Amazon-style reviews and other details like table of contents. OCLC doesn’t say whether this content will become searchable, but hopefully it will.

I believe that this opens up some great opportunities for depository libraries. Especially ones with volunteers or many student assistants! We can immediately start adding value to the so-called legacy collection AND have those items appear in search results.

I tried out this enhanced feature with
The pocket guide to the Arabian Peninsula. I added a table of contents, which will help a user stumbling across this item decide whether this guide is for them.

Another use of these features of Open WorldCat could be for annotating subject guides and bibliographies that are found on many academic depository web sites. Just drop in a link to Open WorldCat and users can have direct access to the table of contents of books, and librarians at other institutions could do better collection development by checking out the librarian generated reviews.

If more libraries thought about their high interest and potential high interest items, a lot more good tangible content could be exposed to the web, our users and our colleagues. How about it?

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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