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National Art Library / Victoria and Albert Museum

Drive museum discovery through a single search

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"We felt that people used to search the catalog, and then they would have to separately search the online databases we had. Whereas with WMS, it brings it all together in a single discovery experience. And we have found that both use of our hard copy collection and of our electronic resources has gone up as a result of going with WMS."

Vicky Worsfold, Head of Onsite Access, National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum

The National Art Library within the Victoria and Albert Museum maintains a permanent collection of over 850,000 printed works and manuscripts and provides access to several thousand electronic titles: journals, books, and online resources. While the physical collection is available for anyone to view, people increasingly access electronic material in place of the original. "We use electronic material quite often as a surrogate for the original materials so that we don’t have to go to the stores and actually access that material, because a lot of our collections are very precious, fragile, and rare," said Vicky Worsfold, Head of Onsite Access. The library's locally installed library system was highly customized to accommodate the wide variety of item formats available, but this created issues with access and ease of searching— to find what they were looking for, users had to search in the library’s catalog and then again in the online databases.

Since the library launched WorldShare® Management Services (WMS) and its end-user discovery service, WorldCat® Discovery, users can now conduct a single search across all formats and collections. 

"Our great trust and interest in OCLC as a bibliographic data-focused organization that we have 30 years of experience working with, that's really important. And they're on the cutting edge of the next phase of bibliographic data as well."
--Elizabeth James, Head of National Art Library Collections, Victoria and Albert Museum

Through WMS, the National Art Library staff members collaborate with other libraries globally and save staff time by sharing the workload. "The opportunities and potential for collaboration at all levels with OCLC is a very important part of our approach as a member of the cooperative," said Elizabeth James, Head of National Art Library Collections. "There is the WorldCat database, which both puts our records out for other libraries and end users to see and enables us to use records without having to recreate very much at all, if anything. And now, being a WMS customer, we don’t even have to import them. They are already there!"

The National Art Library has worked with OCLC for many years and is well represented and embedded in the universe of bibliographic institutions and their collections. Elizabeth appreciates OCLC’s investment in the future of metadata services. "We know they are looking at formats and so forth. We can go on that journey with OCLC without having to worry as an individual library too much," she said.

Services used by the National Art Library / Victoria and Albert Museum

OCLC Cataloging and Metadata Subscription

WorldCat Discovery

WorldShare Management Services

Map showing location of National Art Library / Victoria and Albert Museum

Library at a glance

  • Britain's foremost art and design research and reference library, open to all
  • Supports the V&A, which was founded as the Museum of Manufactures in 1852 and was renamed in 1899 as the Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Holds over 850,000 printed works and manuscripts on all aspects of art and design, with special emphasis on the decorative arts central to the V&A collections
  • Collects examples of book arts and crafts: calligraphy, illustration, fine printing, bookbinding, artists' books, photo books, and children’s books
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