Tip: Use Worldcat to find books, DVDs, etc., in libraries all over the U.S. (plus some in Canada and overseas).

Worldcat is a huge cooperative catalog maintained by OCLC, an organization that librarians use for cataloging and interlibrary loan. A few years ago, OCLC launched a free public Worldcat that’s available on the Web.

Some things you can do with it:

  • Identify books on a subject that you can request on interlibrary loan.
  • Find out who recorded a piece by a favorite composer.
  • See if there is an audio version of a favorite book that you can request on interlibrary loan.
  • Find a library within driving distance that has a book you need TODAY.

…etc. Play around with the advanced search to see what it can do.

If you want to see which libraries own particular item:

Click on the title link and scroll down to find the Libraries tab. Click on the tab and type a term into the box called Enter Location Information.

  • Type Vermont to find some (but maybe not all) Vermont locations (see warnings below) — or:
  • Type your zipcode to find locations nearby. That feature is really fun; it will display the closest locations first, and give you driving distances!

Two warnings:

1. Worldcat does not record all locations of an item in our rural state. It’s great for finding things in college libraries and large public libraries, but not as effective at pinpointing the location of something in a small public library in Vermont / NH / Mass. So please feel free to request things on interlibrary loan whether or not you find any copies nearby.

2. Some of Worldcat’s search features are a little odd, so if you feel like you’re going in circles, it’s probably not your fault.

All that said, it’s a very useful tool, and it’s free!