Published on April 12, 2021 by Ed Craig, Reference Librarian
You have already searched the library’s online catalog for a needed source, with no luck. Interlibrary loan may or may not be an option at this point, but you would really like to get your hands on the book today or tomorrow (not likely with ILL). While other local libraries’ online catalogs through the internet would be an option, you realize that this would be a very time consuming ordeal to search, one-by-one. The best option, which few researchers contemplate, is searching on OCLC FirstSearch’s service called WorldCat. At the law library homepage, click “Online Library”, then “Worldcat” from the alphabetical list. At this point, you will be sent to an initial command screen labelled “Search Samford University Library and beyond”. You can try the single field search for your title, using the default setting of “Libraries Worldwide.” Alternatively, you can click on “advanced search’ giving you the opportunity to enter information into any of the available fields: keyword, author, title, ISBN, ISSN or year of publication.
In entering data in the fields for searching, please keep the following in mind:
- If you have the ISBN number (a 10 digit number identifying a specific edition of a book) for what you are looking for, you may enter this in the appropriate field without entering any other data and click on “search.”
- Keyword searches (using the keyword field) typically include words from the author’s name, and from the title of the work. When entering author names, it is preferable to enter more than a common last name; as an example, if an author’s last name is Smith, it would be best to also include the last name of a co-author or Smith’s first name. You may also mix in pertinent words from the title of the work with author names.
- Usually, restricting the search using the date field is not necessary. Many times, date of publication information in citations is technically incorrect and completing the date field with such data will eliminate your chances of pulling up the correct bibliographic entry. On the other hand, if using title and author information yields plentiful results, you may want to consider adding information in the date field to “weed out” unneeded entries.
After finding a bibliographic entry for the needed text, you can then click on “Libraries Worldwide.” At that point, you will be able to view a list of libraries in Alabama (and worldwide) who have cataloged the book; after clicking on the underlined title of the book, the resulting screen will show a box entitled “Find it in libraries globally” with a clickable “Worldwide libraries own this item”. After clicking, you will see a list of libraries the own the book. This database does not, however, indicate whether the item is on the shelves of that library. This list of libraries are possibilities for borrowing through interlibrary loan, or, if found locally, a candidate for direct loan. Before driving to a library owning a needed book, it is well worth the effort to call that institution to determine checkout policies, entrance policies and whether the book is on the shelf. Any questions about using Worldcat, finding contact information for a particular library, or interlibrary loan requests should be addressed to a Beeson Law Library reference librarian.