Library Notes for Political Science

Teaching resources, news, and links to keep McGill’s Political Scientists informed

Better know a database #4: WorldCat Local

Posted by Megan on March 2, 2010

As I noted back in December, the McGill Library recently launched a new catalogue powered by WorldCat Local.

This is now the default search option on the library’s homepage, so I thought some additional information and tips might be helpful.

The most important thing to know about WorldCat is that it does not exclusively search McGill’s holdings. As the name suggests, it also searches the collections of libraries all over the world that submit their holdings to the database. This allows you to identify more generally what has been published beyond McGill’s own collection.

Your search results will always be presented in this order:

  1. Resources owned by the McGill Library
  2. Resources available in CREPUQ libraries
  3. Resources owned by all other WorldCat libraries globally

Results within each of these groups are ordered by relevance, as determined by WorldCat’s relevance ranking algorithms. (See more about search results on the help pages.)

CREPUQ is the consortium of Quebec university libraries. McGill students and staff can get a special card to borrow directly from these libraries.

As always, materials that are not owned at McGill can be borrowed through our Interlibrary Loan service, which is free for students and staff (more info about ILL). If an item is not held at McGill, you will see a red button in WorldCat that links you the ILL system sign-in.

Another key difference in WorldCat versus our “classic catalogue” is that some journal articles from certain McGill subscribed databases, such as Art Full Text, ArticleFirst, Business Source Complete, Historical Abstracts, Philosopher’s Index, Proceedings First, Social Sciences Full Text, and many more are included in the search results. In most cases, a link in the record will direct you to where the article an be read online (if available). Sometimes, though, you might need to verify our journal holdings in the classic catalogue to get a direct link.

Please note that I do not recommend using WorldCat Local as a primary search tool for finding articles. It does not include every database to which McGill subscribes, and furthermore, it does not accommodate sophisticated searching of abstracts, article type, and standardized vocabulary (subject descriptors). Abstracts that are available in article databases are not necessarily included in WorldCat.

WorldCat is designed to be more “browseable” than previous catalogues. To this end, you can immediately refine by year, format, author, subject, publisher, etc. on the search results page.

In addition, you can go right to advanced search page to search by title, author, etc. or to limit the search to McGill’s holdings only.

As mentioned, the classic catalogue is still alive and well. In fact, it is the only way to carry out certain functions, namely to:

  • Search Course Reserves
  • Access or manage your library account (i.e., change your PIN, renew books online)
  • Place a book on reserve
  • Book a study room

Depending on your preference, you might also find the classic catalogue to be more efficient when looking up known book or journal titles.

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