Can A Worldcat Query Collection Solve Your Collection Loading Problems?

OCLC’s versatile WorldCat query collections are available in WorldShare Collection Manager.

WorldCat® query collections allow you to pull content from your collection for use in a non-standard manner. They allow for pinpointing only selected items or item types. At Lawrence Technological University Library, we needed a way to load our records and holdings into a statewide interlibrary loan (ILL) system that does not operate in real time for most members. The statewide system accepts loads from a variety of library systems and is rigid in what the data source is expected to provide. Our library also did not want to load items that would not be loanable, such as journals or e-books.

We were faced with this dilemma after we migrated to WorldShare® Management Services (WMS), as there did not seem to be a canned report that could provide this precision. Luckily, the WorldCat query collections report returns MARC records. Our collection has unusual items, and we are often the only library in the state to have a holding. We would need new MARC records for each of our unique items to populate the state ILL system. OCLC suggested developing a WorldCat query collection to pull appropriate MARC records from our catalog with the option to include holdings as well. This is exactly what we needed, and we began experimenting with the query collection.

The first step was to decide what we needed to pull. OCLC publishes a data sheet of possible items or item types that can be used in any WorldCat query collection search. From this, we created a Boolean logic search using AND, OR, or NOT to finely hone the selection of the desired materials. After some trials (and errors) we came up with this for our query:


We have since decided that we want to add CDs and audiobooks to the state ILL system as well. We did a special, one-time version of the above query to pull just the CDs and audiobooks. Next, we will modify the main query to include those items as well.

Once we set up the query we needed, we simply copied and pasted the section within the blue parentheses above. We tested the statement out as a keyword search in WorldCat Local and WorldCat Discovery.

This gave us a sneak preview of what the query would bring up when we ran it. We made sure to limit results to our library only, not to “Libraries Worldwide,” for this search to be accurate.

These quantities we received for each format line up pretty closely to what we would expect to find in this particular WorldCat query collection. If too many unwanted items had appeared, then we could have modified the search statement to exclude those formats.

To create your own WorldCat query collection, go to the Collection Manager tab in WMS, create a new WorldCat query collection, give it a name and fill in the various attributes. There are options for how the query will work (how often, what to include, etc.), some of which are shown in the panel below.


The setting “use institution setting” tells the system to use the default institution’s settings for how frequently records are delivered. There is an option to customize the records (left tab). Under the main “settings” button, you can set up the institutional standards in case they are not already filled out.

You can set this WorldCat query collection to run daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. You can conduct a complete query each time or just add to an incremental file that shows only changes or new items since the last query. For our purposes, a weekly load just showing changes was fine. We also could have done it twice weekly by setting it for daily, and then concatenating the files one to three days at a time. For this purpose, we checked “only changed records” after the initial load. There may be reasons to have a complete load each time, and that is an option.

It is best to have a separate file name to prevent these records from being mixed in with the other types of loading that may be done from WorldShare Collection Manager or the WorldCat knowledge base.

All was well and good until the state ILL system said they didn’t want the standard Local Holding Records (LHRs) as delivered with item records interleaved with the MARC records in the file. Instead, they wanted holdings information in a one-line MARC 999 field attached to the MARC record.

Working with OCLC, we wrote a PERL script especially for this purpose. It turns a standard MARC record with an LHR into one that includes the holdings as a 999 field. Any computer that is to run the conversion script will need to have a basic PERL program installed, but the loader file can sit in a shared area, like a shared drive.


Our process is to take the WorldCat query collection results file and run it through the PERL script. The resulting file is ready to be loaded via FTP into the statewide ILL system. The entire process is easy to do and takes only a few minutes to complete.

The final problem to solve is the lack of item availability status. WorldCat query collections aren’t designed to offer availability, and there is no current report that can provide this in an efficient manner. (Note: The WMS weekly inventory report offers availability, so it might be interesting to see how that could blend with the WorldCat query collection to create this.)

In this case, the problem was solved by hard-coding “Available” in the 999 k field, which allows our library show that we own an item and to get requests for it. If a status was not there, no requests would be sent unless no other library had it available. This results in about one or two requests per week that we cannot fill. These requests could happen to any library at any time, since the state ILL system does not work with real-time availability for most libraries. It is not a perfect solution, but it is working well enough for us at this point.

As of November 2016, OCLC has made available new options for LHRs: 1.) MARC and the LHRs can be delivered in separate files, 2.) LHRs can be in a separate file with no MARC records, and 3.) LHRs can be interleaved with the MARC records, the traditional way.

You can learn more about WorldCat query collections on the OCLC support website. There is a step-by-step guide there with demonstrations. The OCLC Community Center (login required) has a copy of my presentation from the September 2016 OCLC WMS Global Community and User Group Meeting in Dublin, Ohio, which goes into a little more detail about the specifications for a successful collection creation and load.

Combined with other tools, like MarcEdit, the WorldCat query collections offer some great options for manipulating your collection to provide improved access. 

  • Gary Cocozzoli

    Library Director, Lawrence Technological University