Today’s Follow Friday is about WorldCat, a union catalog of libraries all over the world that report their collections using OCLC, the bibliographic network utility. WorldCat used to be available only to libraries who use OCLC, but they’ve opened up the database to everyone in the last few years.
When I first started out working as a professional librarian (roughly the same time the earth’s crust was cooling), reference works were only available in print. It seems a trifle unbelievable now, but renowned libraries made their 3×5 card catalogs available to specialty publishers, who in turn made a handsome living printing gigantic multi-volume sets of copies of those card catalogs. If your library wasn’t distinguished enough to warrant a published card catalog, you had to either go or call the library to see if they owned the book you wanted.
The holy grail for many libraries, especially those in geographic consortia, was the union […]