Creating a Catalog Search Form Using WorldCat Registry

When I'm talking about OCLC Web Services to developers, some services spark ideas more quickly than others. Most developers can easily see applications for services like the WorldCat Search API, xISBN, and Identities. Some services though don't instanteously spark as many ideas. One such services is the WorldCat Registry. The Registry contains information about libraries worldwide. Both OCLC members and non-member institutions. Metadata like a library's name, address, phone number, OCLC Symbol, catalog URL, website URL, OpenURL resolver are all in the registry. The public HTML interface to the registry let's users search for a specific kind of library in a specific geographic location and view information about that library. Because developer's don't always have ideas about how they might use the registry, I'm always trying to think of new ways in which the data can be used. I've built map mashups that show all the libraries or a specific type of libraries in a particular geography. However, I wanted to find a way to use the Registry in a way which folks might not have thought of. One of the most common questions I get asked by small libraries when I'm teaching about library content management systems is "How do I embed a catalog search box on my library website?". I've helped literally dozens of libraries do this. It requires a good knowledge of OPACs,HTML, HTTP and a willingness to hack the library catalog a bit. Honestly if its an ILS that I've hacked before and can recognize it can take me less than 5 mins. But this small hack for me, makes a big difference to a small library. So I thought what if I could automate this so when someone emailed me I could say "hey go to the search box builder page and put in your library's OCLC Symbol." Where does the Registry come into all this? Well the first thing I have to do when I build one of these search boxes is to figure out what their catalog is and what its URL is. Both of these bits of information are in the Registry. So my script takes an OCLC Symbol, looks up the institution's catalog URL and ILS Vendor. Once it knows the ILS Vendor I've written functions that properly builds the search box for the given ILS vendor. Ok, so I only have a few spare minutes so the script doesn't work for ALL ILS vendors. I haven't hacked every catalog, YET. It does however work for the following Catalog Vendors

  • ExLibris - ALEPH
  • Innovative Interfaces
  • Evergreen
  • SirsiDynix - Unicorn
  • VTLS - Virtua
  • Polaris

If you want to help me make the script for for other catalogs. Post a comment with which catalog you have hacked and I'll get in touch to get the code from you. You can check out the demo in action here. Try testing YCM or TXH.

  • Karen Coombs

    Karen Coombs

    Senior Product Analyst