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Search WorldCat


Use Discover Items to search through WorldCat for print or other physical format monographs and serials. WorldCat is a bibliographic database which contains tens of millions of online records maintained and contributed by member libraries.

There are three search methods you can use to search WorldCat:

  • Basic search
  • Advanced search
  • Expert search

When you search using any of the methods listed above, your results will be displayed on the Search results screen.

You can find records quickly using the basic search. For example, the basic search can be useful when you have an ISBN or other standard number.

Watch a video

Searching WorldCat (10:56)

This video will show you how to search for records in WorldCat® using the Discover Items feature in WorldShare® Acquisitions. You will need to find a record in WorldCat for both ordering and for adding holdings for items you have in hand, or for items that you have acquired outside of the WMS Ordering process (e.g. gifts).

Basic search

  1. On the left navigation, click Discover Items.
  2. From the first list, select a search scope. See Search Scope below for details.
    • Select My Library Holdings if you already have at least one copy of the item.
    • Select All WorldCat if you do not own any copies of the item.
  3. From the second list, select an index. See Select a search index below for details.
  4. In the search field, enter your search terms. The search field will expand to fit your search terms, if needed.
  5. Click Search or press <Enter>.
When you search for records, you can limit your search - Table
Search Scope Limits Search to
All WorldCat (default) All records in WorldCat
My Group Holdings (only available to WMS libraries with "group aware") Records held by institutions in your group
My LHRs Your local holdings records
My Library Holdings Records held by your library
Select a search index - Table
Index Searches for
Author Terms in the author or author indexed field
Barcode (option under My LHRs) Items by barcode. For more information, see WorldShare Record Manager: Search.
Call Number Browse (option under My LHRs) Call numbers above and below the call number entered. The call number you enter can be as specific as you want. For example, you can enter TX771 .S9377 2009 or TX771. For more information, see Browse local holdings using a call number.
ISBN International Standard Book Number (ten or thirteen-digit number)
ISSN International Standard Serial Number (eight-digit number)
Keyword (default) Terms anywhere in the record
OCLC Number Unique identifier assigned to WorldCat records. This search will only retrieve a single record.
Title Terms in the title or a title indexed field

For more information on indexes, see Searching WorldCat Indexes.

Advanced search

Use the advanced search to perform a more in-depth search than the Basic search allows. You can combine up to five indexes and apply limits to retrieve a more precise set of search results.

  1. On the left navigation, click Discover Items.
  2. Click Advanced Search.
  3. On the Advanced Search window, select the Search Scope:
    • Select My Library Holdings if you already have at least one copy of the item.
    • Select My Group Holdings to search for items held by any institution in your group (only available to WMS libraries with "group aware").
    • Select All WorldCat if you do not own any copies of the item.
  4. Select an Index from the list. For a list of all indexes, see Indexes.
  5. Based on the index you selected, enter your search terms into the search field.
  6. (Optional) Enter up to five combinations of indexes and search terms:
    • Click the Add button (Add button) to add an index and the Remove button (Remove button) to remove an index.
    • Select a Boolean operator (AND, OR, NOT) for each index that you add.
  7. Fill out the remaining fields. See Advanced search settings below for details.
  8. Click Search.
Advanced search settings - Table

This table describes all of the fields you can use on the Advanced Search window (you are not required to fill in all the fields).

Setting Description
Abbreviated-level records only Select the check box to search for bibliographic records in WorldCat with an encoding level of 3. For more information on encoding levels, see Abbreviated-level cataloging guidelines in Bibliographic Formats and Standards.
Format(s) Select one or more formats from the list. Format is defined in the master record. For more information, see Searching WorldCat Indexes.
Languages(s) Language of the item. Select one or more languages from the list.
Language(s) of Cataloging Language used for the description of the item. Select one or more languages from the list.
Reset Click Reset to clear out all fields on the Advanced Search window. If you have Set your search user preferences, the search will reset to your default preferences.
Source of Cataloging

Select the source of cataloging from the list:

  • Any
  • DLC: Library of Congress
Year(s) Limits a search by year. Enter a single year or a range.

Set your search preferences

You can set your preferences for the search scopes. When you set user preferences, the options you select will appear when you open Discover Items in the left navigation.

  1. On the left navigation, click Discover Items.
  2. Click the User Preferences button (User Preferences button).
  3. On the User Preference window, select the Search Scope you want to set your preferences for. You can set different preferences for each search scope.
  4. Select the Set as Default check box to make the Search Scope the default.
  5. Select one or more Index(es) for the search scope. These indexes will appear at the top of the Index(es) lists on the Advanced Search window.
  6. Select the Sorting Method. The Sorting Method determines how your search results are listed.
  7. Select one or more Language(s) of Cataloging.
  8. Select a Source of Cataloging.
  9. Click Save.
  10. Click Reset to apply the default preferences you selected.

Expert search

Use the expert search to perform a complete search in a single string. An expert search is made up of a combination of index labels and search terms. With the use of Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), you can search through several indexes at once and apply limits at the same time. Expert searches can be performed in the basic search area or the advanced search window.

  1. On the left navigation, click Discover Items.
  2. From the first list, select a search scope. See Search Scopes in the table above for details.
    • Select My Library Holdings if you already have at least one copy of the item.
    • Select All WorldCat if you do not own any copies of the item.
  3. From the second list, select any index other than OCLC Number. An expert search will not work if this index is selected.
  4. In the search field, enter your expert search in this format: [Index label][Search terms]
    • For example: ti:girl dragon tattoo mt:nsr pb=random house
    • When you are performing an expert search with multiple indexes, the Boolean AND is implied. If you are using the Boolean operators OR or NOT, you must type the operator and use capital letters.
  5. Click Search.

Search results

After you search for a record under Discover Items (using any of the search methods - Basic search, Advanced search, or Expert search), any search results matching the terms you entered will display. From the search results screen, you can perform different actions using the sections described below.

Search tabs

The tabs on the side of the screen show any searches you have performed.

  • Click on a search to return to it.
  • To remove a search, click the next to the search. All searches are saved until you remove them or sign out of WorldShare.
  • To close all searches, click Close All Tabs.


Use the facets to filter your results by Language of Cataloging, Format, Year, Author, or Language.

  • To filter your results, select the check box next to the value(s) you want to apply. Results filter automatically. The facets you select will appear at the top of the facet list under Selected Facets.
  • To remove a selected facet, click the x next to the value at the top of the list, under Selected Facets, or deselect the check box next to the value.
  • Click Hide Facets to remove the facets from view.


The number of results you receive and your place in the results list appears at the top and bottom of the results list.

  • To refresh the results list, click the Refresh button (Refresh button).

Sort by

Use the options in the Sort by list to determine how your search results are sorted.

  • Select how to sort your search results from the Sort by list:
    • Relevance (default)
    • Author (A-Z)
    • Title (A-Z)
    • Date (Newest first)
    • Date (Oldest first)
    • Library Count (Highest first)
    • Library Count (Lowest first)

Search Result

The first column in the results list displays brief bibliographic information about each record, including: Title, Author, Publisher, ISBN, ISSN, Series, Source of cataloging, Language of the item, Level of the record, and OCLC Number.

  • Click Open in Connexion to view or edit the bibliographic record in OCLC Connexion.
  • Click View/Edit Metadata to view or edit the bibliographic record in WorldShare Record Manager.
  • Click the title to:

    • View item details (on the Details screen)
    • Add and edit holdings (on the Copies screen)
    • Place holds (on the Holds screen)
  • Hover over the information icon (Information icon) to see detailed information about a record, including:
    • Copies Owned: The number of copies held by your library
    • Number of holds: The number of holds on the item
    • Copies selected: The number of copies in open orders
    • Copies ordered: The number of copies ordered but not received


The number of rows per page and page navigation buttons appear at the top and bottom of the results list.

  • Select a number from the Rows list to change the number of rows you see per page.
  • If there is more than one page of results, use the navigation buttons to move between pages.

(Not) Held by my library

This column indicates whether your library has added holdings to the record. If your library has added holdings, this means your library owns or has access to one or more items represented by the record. The column also displays how many libraries in WorldCat have added their holdings to the record.

Add to Order

Click Add to Order to:

  • Add the item to an order or plan
  • Create a new order
  • Delete a template


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