Database of the Month: WorldCat

Wouldn’t it be great for research if libraries worldwide put their collections together into one searchable database?  Well, WorldCat is just that database. When you search WorldCat for a subject, author, title, or keyword, you’ll be searching the physical and digital collections of thousands of libraries around the world. WorldCat is a service of OCLC, a nonprofit research, libraries, and information organization. It grows every day from member libraries adding new items.

Why WorldCat?

You may wonder why you would want to search WorldCat instead of only searching Bentley’s own catalog and databases, or instead of a bookselling site like Amazon. Here are a few reasons:

  • You can get a comprehensive picture of the research. If you’re trying to find everything that’s been published by a particular writer or on a particular topic, WorldCat covers a larger, different set of items than either the Bentley catalog or Amazon. It includes archival and other local-level items, dissertations, electronic journals, and more.
  • Unique and out-of-print items will always be included. WorldCat provides information about resources for the purposes of research, not sale, so neither its records nor its search algorithms reflect what has sold the most copies, but what’s most relevant to researchers.
  • Many of the same useful features are available. WorldCat includes the capabilities to read and post reviews (it pulls in reviews from GoodReads and other sites), add tags, create lists, and export records in several ways.

See Who Has What

WorldCat also zeroes in locally (based on your zip code) to show you libraries near you who own the item you’re looking for.* While we do our best to build a collection useful to our users, Bentley doesn’t own everything. If you’re looking for an obscure book on the history of horticulture, or maybe pulp novels from the 1950s, your needs are probably better served by another collection. WorldCat will show you a local library where you can find the item, or you can immediately request it through our interlibrary loan service by clicking “Request via Interlibrary Loan.” An example of how you can see libraries near you that own an item is below, using Mad Men: Season One.

 *Always double-check that the library (including Bentley) owns the item, and that it is available to be checked out or examined. Contacting individual libraries is the best way to do this.

Connect to this Database:

You will find WorldCat listed on the library’s Databases A-Z page, and every database subject page. Just look for this box:


Database of the Month provides a very brief introduction to an important research database, highlighting key features of the database that you should know about. If you would like more information about this database (or any of the library’s databases) please contact the Reference Desk.  If you would like a demonstration of this database for a class, please contact our Coordinator of User Education, Elizabeth Galoozis.