WorldCat Discovery Services

Get the most from the service

Visit the WorldCat Discovery Services support page for documentation, instructor-led courses, tutorials and office hours.

Frequently asked questions

General information about WorldCat Discovery Services

Why does OCLC plan to provide access to both a new version of FirstSearch and WorldCat Discovery?

OCLC has modified the plan to transition all FirstSearch and WorldCat Local users to WorldCat Discovery because we understand libraries need to deliver search experiences that meet different user needs:

  • Power searching for library staff and expert searchers
  • Single-search-box discovery of electronic, digital and physical library collections for a broader user community.

How do current WorldCat Discovery subscribers who do not maintain holdings in WorldCat benefit from WorldCat Discovery Services?

Current WorldCat Discovery subscribers receive the following benefits from WorldCat Discovery, regardless of the presence of their collections in WorldCat:

  • A new user interface that adapts automatically to mobile devices
  • Access to a central index that represents more than 2,300 collections of articles, e-books and other e-content
  • The ability to manage access to digital collections with CONTENTdm® "quick start"
  • Links to full text via an existing OpenURL resolver and from URLs included in the 856 field of WorldCat records.

What additional WorldCat Discovery benefits do WorldCat Discovery subscribers receive when they also subscribe to OCLC cataloging?

Libraries whose collections are maintained in WorldCat and the WorldCat knowledge base will maximize their use of WorldCat Discovery. In addition to the features listed above, they also benefit from:

  • Display of local library resources first in search results
  • Direct links to full-text resources in their e-content subscriptions
  • A built-in A to Z list
  • Visibility of their libraries' resources in OCLC partner websites where many people begin their research (when library staff add holdings to WorldCat)

Are WorldCat Discovery features available to WorldShare® Management Services users who currently use WorldCat Local as their discovery interface?

WorldShare Management Services (WMS) users, along with users of WorldCat Local, may take advantage of preview access to WorldCat Discovery in order to become familiar with the WorldCat Discovery interface.  

Will group catalogs use new WorldCat Discovery Services interface and features?

Yes. Group catalogs will be able to use the new searching and interface of WorldCat Discovery. The WorldCat Discovery team will work with each group catalog implementation to support its transition to WorldCat Discovery.

Will Z39.50 access to WorldCat continue in WorldCat Discovery Services?

Z39.50 searching of WorldCat is not supported in WorldCat Discovery. Use of Z39.50 by other OCLC services will not be affected by this change.

Is there an API available for WorldCat Discovery Services?

Yes, the WorldCat Discovery API is currently available as a beta for a select number of libraries using WorldCat Discovery Services. It is not yet in general release or available for use by commercial partners. Libraries who wish to use the WorldCat Discovery API are encouraged to visit the OCLC Developer Network and request a key

What usage statistics are provided to WorldCat Discovery Services subscribers?

Subscribers have access to the same type of usage statistics available for FirstSearch activity. In addition, WorldCat Discovery Services will work with Google Analytics, a free tool, to deliver traffic and access statistics for your library. Libraries may purchase access to Adobe® Reports & Analaytics® (formerly known as SiteCatalyst®) for more customizable usage reports.

What does WorldCat Discovery Services mean for OCLC ILL subscribers?  

Authorized ILL staff members can use the staff view of WorldCat Discovery for full-featured searching with facets and access to the central index, and then use the "Staff ILL Request" button to integrate discovery results into ILL workflows. Users of libraries that offer patron-initiated requesting search WorldCat Discovery Services to identify the materials they request through interlibrary loan. ILL staff members can also search WorldCat through a more basic discovery interface within WorldShare Interlibrary Loan, but all future searching enhancements will occur in WorldCat Discovery; there are no plans to further enhance searching within WorldShare ILL.  

Managing a WorldCat Discovery account

Will my library's existing configurations of administrative settings, such as OPAC links and IP addresses, be moved into WorldCat Discovery, or will I have to configure these settings again?

It is a good idea to review your OCLC Service Configuration settings and make sure they are up to date. If you have not already entered IP addresses or OPAC links in OCLC Service Configuration, you will need to add this information.  

Which WorldCat Discovery features can library staff customize?

Your library staff may customize the interface with local branding, colors and custom library links. You may also select which content collections are available to your users.

I set up new OCLC Services accounts for my staff's use of WorldShare Interlibrary Loan. Will we use the same accounts to access WorldCat Discovery Services?

Yes. Staff members who manage both WorldShare ILL and WorldCat Discovery Services for your library can do so from the same OCLC Services account. Your ILL staff may contact to request access to WorldCat Discovery Services from your library's OCLC services accounts for WorldShare ILL.

Will library staff need to change the scripted access they have set up for FirstSearch databases?

Scripted access is no longer needed to access WorldCat Discovery. Instead, WorldCat Discovery libraries will use a new, library-specific URL that will not require Web scripts. Staff will just need to update existing links to FirstSearch content with their library-specific WorldCat Discovery URL.

Can library staff customize the library's WorldCat Discovery Services URL?

Yes. Your library staff can request a change to your library-specific URL by submitting a request to

Using WorldCat Discovery

What advanced search capabilities are provided for expert searchers, such as faculty members or genealogists?

All WorldCat Discovery Services users will benefit from multiple search options.  Keyword and advanced searching continue in WorldCat Discovery. The advanced search screen displays many of the searchable fields.  Experienced searchers may continue to search terms within specific fields using 2-letter field abbreviations, restrict searches to individual databases and view library holdings information within the service. Standard features such as use of Boolean operators, nesting search terms, etc. are also supported in WorldCat Discovery.  

In the future, WorldCat Discovery will also include use of full-featured search features from a new version of FirstSearch.

Can library staff view MARC records in the new service?

Yes. Display of MARC records is available for staff of libraries that maintain up-to-date in WorldCat through an OCLC cataloging subscription. Staff must log in to use staff-specific features such as the MARC record display.  

With which ILSs does WorldCat Discovery interoperate to deliver real-time availability status?

ILSs that currently interoperate with WorldCat Discovery to provide real-time availability are:

  • Innovative Interfaces: Millennium, INNOPAC, INN-Reach, Sierra
  • SirsiDynix: Symphony, Unicorn, Horizon, iBistro
  • ExLibris: Voyager, Aleph
  • Axiell: OpenGalaxy Plus
  • Z39.50-only interoperability: Koha

WorldCat Discovery content

What is in the WorldCat Discovery central index?

The central index is an index of metadata for a wide range of databases, articles, e-books, and digital materials libraries provide to their users, including materials from well-known content providers and open access resources. The central index:

  • Represents more than 2,300 e-resource content collections from OCLC content partners such as EBSCO*, ProQuest, Gale, Springer and many others.
  • Includes databases of the former FirstSearch Base Package (Electronic Books, ArchiveGrid, ArticleFirst, CAMIO Catalog of Art Museum Images Online, OCLC FirstSearch Electronic Collections Online Abstract & Index, OAIster, PapersFirst, ProceedingsFirst, WorldCat Dissertations and Theses, ERIC, GPO Monthly Catalog and MEDLINE). These databases can be selected and searched individually.

* Access to complete EBSCO collections in he central index requires purchase of the following options: Item location and real-time availability, Remote database search. 

As you view the list of collections included in the central index at, note that the collections noted as "Complete" are those for which OCLC and the content provider have negotiated an agreement to surface this metadata through WorldCat Discovery.  Collections noted as "Majority" are those for which WorldCat Discovery Services contains some  metadata for 75 percent or more of the ISSNs or ISBNs indexed in the database or collection  from another source.

What is the difference between the electronic content represented in WorldCat and the electronic content represented in the central index?

Metadata for electronic resources such as websites, e-journals and e-books has been added to WorldCat for many years. Some of the metadata has been contributed by OCLC member libraries and some has been added through OCLC partnerships with leading publishers and content aggregators.

The combination of WorldCat and the central index of metadata for well-known electronic content collections makes it possible for 18,000 FirstSearch libraries to offer their users a more integrated discovery experience.

What is the difference between the central index for WorldCat Discovery Services and the WorldCat knowledge base?

The central index for WorldCat Discovery Services and the WorldCat knowledge base are complementary tools that enable information seekers to find and connect to information resources provided by libraries.

The WorldCat knowledge base contains detailed information about library holdings that enables linking from citations to full text in resources to which a library subscribes.

The central index in WorldCat Discovery Services is a rich index of metadata that provides unified access to a broad range of content, including the following resources:

  • The WorldCat database of 372 million bibliographic records, representing the collections of thousands of libraries worldwide
  • FirstSearch Base Package subscription databases (except Clase and Periodica)
  • More than 200 million article-level records from sources that include HathiTrust, ArticleFirst, MEDLINE, ERIC, British Library Inside Serials, JSTOR, OAIster, Elsevier metadata and others
  • E-resource collections from OCLC content partners such as ProQuest, Gale and others.

Metadata in the central index enables discovery, and library holdings data in the knowledge base facilitates links from citations to full text.

Does my library need to subscribe to collections represented in the central index in order to take advantage of search access through WorldCat Discovery?

The central index for WorldCat Discovery Services serves as a finding tool for millions of content items.

  • Metadata for some of this content is searchable without a subscription.
  • Some content collections are searchable without a subscription but require a subscription for access to full text.
  • Other content collections require a subscription to search as well as display full text; when your library also subscribes to these content collections, you can use the built-in link resolution functionality provided by the WorldCat knowledge base or another knowledge base already in use at your library to connect users to full text.

An Excel file list of content collections in the central index is available, as well as PDFs.

What is the relationship between searches of the central index for WorldCat Discovery Services and searching remote databases through the optional service?

The central index is available for searching by users of all libraries that subscribe to WorldCat Discovery. Searches retrieve results from WorldCat and the central index. The e-content that a library makes available to its users depends on its subscriptions to e-content collections.

The for-fee remote database searching option lets libraries also include searches of metadata not included in the central index for WorldCat Discovery Services as part of users' search experience. When a library implements remote database searching, results from remote content are integrated into a single set of search results along with results from the central index.

How do libraries begin to use the WorldCat knowledge base?

Use of the WorldCat knowledge base is included in an OCLC Cataloging Subscription. To use the WorldCat knowledge base, complete a knowledge base request form, add data about electronic collections to the knowledge base and activate the functionality. Methods for adding a library's local data to the WorldCat knowledge base are described in Building your WorldCat knowledge base: Choose a method to add your collections (PDF).

WorldCat Discovery Services subscriptions

Why do libraries need a WorldCat Discovery subscription for their holdings to display in and OCLC partner websites?

An OCLC Cataloging subscription supports the cost of maintaining your library's holdings in the WorldCat database. A WorldCat Discovery subscription covers the cost of making that data accessible to information seekers and machines that integrate information resources through interfaces and APIs.  

A WorldCat Discovery subscription gives the public access to a library's collections maintained in WorldCat through WorldCat Discovery, and websites of OCLC partners, such as Google Books, Goodreads, EasyBib, etc. Through partner websites, searchers will discover libraries' resources in places where they often begin their research and then connect back to libraries from those sites. A WorldCat Discovery subscription makes discovery of library materials possible through multiple Web destinations with no additional work for library staff.

If a consortium purchases a library's WorldCat Discovery subscription, can individual library members add their own options?

Yes. Options can be purchased by individual library members of groups and consortia.

Does an EMEA subscription support a library's use of WorldCat Discovery?

EMEA libraries that subscribe to at Level 3 (which includes access to FirstSearch) may use WorldCat Discovery as part of their current subscriptions. Use of WorldCat Discovery is not included in an EMEA Level 1 or Level 2 subscription. Libraries subscribing at these levels will continue to expand visibility of their collections through OCLC's partnerships with a growing number of search engines and other popular websites.

Getting started with WorldCat Discovery Services

How can library staff prepare for use of WorldCat Discovery Services?

There are several things library staff can do to prepare for use of WorldCat Discovery Services.

  • Review and update your library's information in OCLC Service Configuration. Pay particular attention to your OPAC URLs and IP addresses, because these settings directly impact your use of WorldCat Discovery. For detailed instructions about configuring links to your library's resources, consult WorldCat Discovery documentation on the OCLC Support and Training website. 
  • Add e-content collections to the WorldCat knowledge base so users can link to full-text electronic content provided by their library. If your library subscribes to OCLC Cataloging Services, you can request use of the WorldCat knowledge base now. If your library already uses the WorldCat knowledge base to support other OCLC services, your staff should review your library's collections to make sure they are current and that ILL policies are reflected correctly.
  • Prepare a list of your library's e-content subscriptions to save time setting up access to this content in WorldCat Discovery Services. Filter the Excel list of collections available in the central index on the OCLC website to quickly find and enable your library's e-content collections in the OCLC Service Configuration Licensed Content and Metadata module. Check the names of your collections in this module to make these databases searchable in WorldCat Discovery Services.  

What kind of training is available for library staff?

OCLC provides self-paced, live and virtual training for library staff when the service is released. Details about training resources will be provided on the OCLC Support and Training website.

Does my library need to use specific browsers to access WorldCat Discovery?

WorldCat Discovery requires use of the latest version of the following browsers:

  • Mozilla Firefox®
  • Google Chrome
  • Apple Safari
  • Microsoft® Internet Explorer version 9, 10 or 11

Newer browser versions are needed to enable use of the new and expanded features of WorldCat Discovery.

If you are not sure which browser is in use at your library, you may wish to consult

Promote WorldCat Discovery in your library



Five different versions of 8.5" x 11" posters that you can print or customize with your library's name and unique WorldCat Discovery URL. Hang all around your campus, community, school or organization.

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Table tents


Table tents are great for study tables and in the cafeteria. Print and fold in half along the middle dotted line. Fold in on the remaining exterior two dotted lines to form a triangle. Tape or staple together.

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Everyone needs a bookmark. Print and then cut the bookmarks apart along the dotted lines.

Generic PDF File | Customizable Word File | Customizable PDF File

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Promote WorldCat Discovery on your website with a leaderboard banner ad. These banners are 728px wide and 90px tall.


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