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How To Use WorldCat: Home

How To Use WorldCat

WorldCat is an online library catalog that lets you look up books, dissertations, microform, journals and multimedia items in libraries around the world. 

When To Use WorldCat

Use WorldCat

  • When you know the title of the book you want, but you don't know which libraries have it.
  • You want to know what books and other information sources exist on your topic, not just the ones that are available in one library.
  • You need more information about a book or other information source (like its full list of authors, its publisher, etc.)

Access WorldCat

You can get to WorldCat in one of two ways:

Search WorldCat

WorldCat has a Basic Search on the front page, which is very straightforward. Just click the tab for the type of item you want, and then enter the title, author or keywords you are looking for.

Screenshot of WorldCat basic search.

WorldCat also has an Advanced Search with many more options. To get to it, click Advanced Search under the search box on the front page. The features include:

  • Boxes to enter author, title, and keyword
  • Publication date range
  • Audience (children/youth or adults)
  • Content (fiction, non-fiction, biography, dissertation, etc.)
  • Format (book, ebook, journal, electronic journal, microfilm, etc.)
  • Language

Screenshot of the WorldCat advanced search window.

Your Search Results List

Once you have searched, you can refine your results by narrowing down to a particular author, publication year, subject area, or other facet, using the column on the left

Screenshot of the WorldCat search results list with the facets on the left side highlighted.

Find Out More About The Item

Click on the title of an item that you are interested in, and that takes you to more information about that item.

  • Citation information: title, author, publisher, publication location and date, etc.
  • Picture of the cover
  • Preview the contents, if available
  • Table of contents, if available
  • Ratings and reviews of the item, if available
  • Information about other editions and formats, if available
  • Link to similar items

Screenshot of WorldCat item information page.

Below that is information about where you can obtain a copy of the item.

Find A Copy Of The Item

If it is an electronic resource, there will be a section listing online services that provide it, either for free or for a fee.

Screenshot of WorldCat search - where to find online

Below that, whether it is an electronic or print resource, there will be a section listing libraries that have it. There is a place to put in your zip code so that the libraries nearest you will be at the top of the list. 

Screenshot of WorldCat find a library screen

Remember that if you bring your Empire State photo ID to any SUNY or NY state community college library, they will let you take out books. For more information about that, see our page on the SUNY Open Access Policy. Also most academic libraries will let members of the community use their resources inside the building.

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