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WorldCat Discovery Services

Get the most from the service

Several types of resources are available to help you become familiar with WorldCat Discovery Services.


Training options include:

  • Instructor-led courses
  • Tutorials
  • Recorded training courses
  • WorldCat Discovery Services office hours

See all training options or register for a course »

Frequently asked questions

General information about WorldCat Discovery Services

Why is OCLC updating FirstSearch® and WorldCat Local to become WorldCat Discovery Services?

WorldCat Discovery Services deliver a richer discovery experience, enhancing FirstSearch access to WorldCat and the other databases with the electronic content of the central index and adding the local capabilities of WorldCat Local's full-featured discovery. It was created with input from users of both FirstSearch and WorldCat Local, a FirstSearch advisory group and more than 650 beta testing participants.

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

Current FirstSearch subscribers will 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 2,000 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 Services benefits will FirstSearch 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)

Will all FirstSearch users be upgraded to WorldCat Discovery? When should we plan to move to the new service?

Yes. All current FirstSearch users will be upgraded to WorldCat Discovery. You can choose to move to the new service at the time most appropriate for your library through December 2015, when access to FirstSearch will end. During this time, WorldCat Discovery and FirstSearch will operate in parallel, so library staff can become familiar with the new service. 

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 a beta period that began in April 2014. OCLC will adjust the beta based on user feedback until the new interface is complete and functionally ready for full production use by WorldCat Local and WMS libraries.

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 beginning with a beta that will start in 2015.

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

Z39.50 searching of WorldCat will not be 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

Can libraries continue to use WorldCat Local "quick start" when WorldCat Discovery Services are available?

The separate WorldCat Local "quick start" will be discontinued on June 30, 2015. WorldCat Discovery Services provides the functionality of WorldCat Local "quick start," including the display of local holdings first in search results. Libraries that have implemented interoperability between WorldCat Local "quick start" and their local OPAC for display of availability information may wish to purchase the item location and real-time availability option in WorldCat Discovery.

What usage statistics will be provided to WorldCat Discovery Services subscribers?

Subscribers will have access to the same type of usage statistics they currently have 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 libraries that used FirstSearch for resource sharing?

Access to the WorldCat Resource Sharing service that used the FirstSearch interface ended on May 19, 2014. But authorized ILL staff members can use WorldCat Discovery in staff mode for full-featured searching with facets and acccess 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. 

In August 2014, WorldCat Discovery was enhanced to enable authorized ILL staff to submit ILL requests from within WorldCat Discovery after logging in to the staff-specific features of WorldCat Discovery.

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?

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

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 keyword and advanced searching. Experienced searchers may continue to search terms within specific fields, to restrict searches to individual databases and to view library holdings information within the service.

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, Polaris

WorldCat Discovery content

What is in the central index, which is now included with WorldCat Discovery Services?

The central index included in the new WorldCat Discovery Services is an index of metadata for e-content collections libraries often provide to their users. These include collections from well-known content providers such as Gale, ProQuest, Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, Oxford University Press and Taylor & Francis.

Sources of central index content include:

  • Indexing for complete databases
    Many content providers partner with OCLC to make indexing of their content available through this central index. Access to these databases is determined by library subscriptions to this content.
  • Vendor record sets requested by WorldCat Local libraries
    OCLC contacts publishers on behalf of OCLC member libraries to obtain agreements for the addition of vendor records already licensed by these libraries to WorldCat.

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 330+ 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 or 10

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

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