Coming March 2014: WorldCat Discovery Services

WorldCat® Discovery Services provide a new suite of cloud-based applications that brings the FirstSearch® and WorldCat® Local services together. The suite will enable people to discover more than 2 billion electronic, digital and physical resources in libraries around the world through a single search of both WorldCat® and a central index that represents nearly 2,000 e-content collections. This will make it possible for 18,000+ FirstSearch libraries to offer a richer discovery experience.

WorldCat Discovery Services will fully replace FirstSearch following a year-long transition period during which the two services will operate in parallel. It is available to all current FirstSearch subscribers in March 2014 as part of existing subscriptions during the transition period.

WorldCat Discovery includes:

  • A new discovery experience that consolidates access to your electronic, physical and digital collections
  • Access to a central index that represents more than a billion articles, e-books and other e-content
  • An interface that automatically adjusts for desktops, tablets and mobile
  • Direct link resolution to full-text resources for your library’s e-content subscriptions for libraries that maintain their holdings in WorldCat
  • Visibility where users start their searches on™ and other services across the Web, if you have full OCLC cataloging
  • The ability to tailor your discovery service through fee-based options (see below)

Find out what you can do to get ready »

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What's New for FirstSearch Users

Take a look at WorldCat Discovery Services (3 min.)

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Video: Moving Forward with WorldCat Discovery Services

“OCLC is letting its mission drive its providing more access to more information for more people. Making library collections more accessible can only help us fulfill our mission as libraries.”

—Angi Faiks, Associate Director of Access, Instruction and Research Services at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA

What's new for you

WorldCat Discovery Services offer users discovery and access to a library’s local electronic and physical collections, access to other libraries’ collections and open access materials, link resolution to electronic content and integrated delivery options.

Depending on your current FirstSearch subscription and if you maintain holdings in WorldCat and the WorldCat® knowledge base, you’ll see even more benefits with WorldCat Discovery. Here’s a quick run-down of what’s new in WorldCat Discovery depending on your type of subscription:

Your current subscription

What's new in WorldCat Discovery

WorldCat on FirstSearch

  • Access to a central index
  • Previous FirstSearch base package databases
  • New mobile-ready interface
  • CONTENTdm® "quick start"

WorldCat on FirstSearch and OCLC cataloging

Features listed above plus:

  • Direct links to full-text resources to which a library subscribes
  • A built-in A to Z list
  • A library’s resources listed first in search results

WorldCat Local and WorldShare® Management Services

  • All additional discovery options already included for current subscribers
  • Planned enhancements for known-item searching, relevance ranking and "Did you mean?"
  • Beta period for current community members coming in April 2014

Note for Groups: If you belong to a group that shares an OCLC FirstSearch subscription, you will receive information about training and support plans for members of your group.


Optional services

Tailor your WorldCat Discovery experience to meet your local needs. Add as much or as little functionality as you need. For-fee options to add to your WorldCat Discovery Services subscription include:

  • Real-time availability status. Show users what’s available in their local library collection.
  • A group- or consortium-view of available resources. Maximize and reinforce the value of your library’s group affiliations.
  • Management of course reserves or reading lists. Build temporary collections of resources organized by course or subject for easy identification.
  • Remote database search. Integrated search of all library subscriptions, including those not in the central index.
  • Customized traffic and usage reports. Measure usage and support with the use of Adobe® Reports & Analytics® (formerly SiteCatalyst®).

Frequently Asked Questions

General information about WorldCat Discovery Services

Why is OCLC bringing FirstSearch and WorldCat Local together into WorldCat Discovery Services?

WorldCat Discovery Services deliver a richer discover experience, combining FirstSearch access to WorldCat and other databases with 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 that 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 a billion 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
  • Library staff who add holdings to WorldCat make their library’s resources visible in OCLC partner websites, where many people begin their research.

Are all FirstSearch users required to move to WorldCat Discovery? When should we plan to move to the new service?

Yes. All current FirstSearch users will move to WorldCat Discovery. They can choose when to move to the new service during a transition period of at least 12 months following the release of the new service March 2014. During this time, WorldCat Discovery and FirstSearch will operate in parallel, so library staffs can become familiar with the new service.

An exact date for the end of access to FirstSearch has not been determined; however, OCLC will share this information as soon as the date is available.

Will WorldCat Discovery features be available to WMS users who currently use WorldCat Local as their discovery interface?

WorldShare Management Services users, along with users of WorldCat Local, may try the new service during a beta period that begins in April 2014. OCLC will adjust the beta based on user feedback through December 2014, when the new interface is scheduled to be 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 starts in April 2014.

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

Z39.50 searching of WorldCat will not be supported in WorldCat Discovery. All other OCLC services that use Z39.50 continue on as usual.

Can libraries continue to use WorldCat Local “quick start” once WorldCat Discovery Services are available?

The separate WorldCat Local “quick start” will be discontinued following the WorldCat Discovery release. The new services suite will provide functionality of WorldCat Local “quick start” such as 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 real-time availability option in WorldCat Discovery. OCLC will share the date on which WorldCat Local “quick start” access will end once it has been confirmed.

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 use of WorldCat Discovery Services mean for libraries that use FirstSearch for resource sharing?

The WorldShare Interlibrary Loan service will replace WorldCat Resource Sharing on May 19, 2014, when access to WorldCat Resource Sharing ends. Users of libraries that offer patron-initiated requesting will search WorldCat Discovery Services to identify the materials they request through interlibrary loan. ILL staffs can search WorldCat in the discovery interface within WorldShare Interlibrary Loan. NOTE: When WorldCat Discovery is released in March 2014, it will include a default form for user-initiated interlibrary loan requests. A customizable form is planned for availability by June 2014.

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?

OCLC will move your existing FirstSearch administrative settings for you, so you will not need to set up these configurations again in the new service.

Which WorldCat Discovery features can library staffs customize?

Library staffs may customize the interface with local branding, colors and custom library links. They may also select which content collections are available to their 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. Staffs 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 their OCLC services accounts for WorldShare ILL.

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

Scripted access is no longer needed to access WorldCat Discovery. Instead, libraries will use a new, library-specific URL that will not require Web scripts.

Can library staff customize their library’s WorldCat Discovery Services URL?

Yes. Library staff can request a change to their 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, restrict searches to individual databases and view library holdings information within the service.

Will library staff will be able to view MARC records in the new service?

Yes. Display of MARC records is planned as a future enhancement to WorldCat Discovery Services.

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
  • SirsiDynix: Symphony, Unicorn, Horizon, iBistro
  • ExLibris: Voyager, Aleph
  • Axiell: OpenGalaxy Plus
  • Z39.50-only interoperability: Koha, Polaris

WorldCat Discovery content

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

The central index included in the new WorldCat Discovery service 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 full 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 310+ million bibliographic records, representing the collections of 72,000 libraries worldwide
  • FirstSearch Base Package subscription databases
  • 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
  • Licensed databases 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 to 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.

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 a library makes available to its users depends on its subscriptions to e-content collections.

The optional remote database searching feature 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 at

WorldCat Discovery Services subscriptions

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

A cataloging subscription supports the cost of maintaining the software and infrastructure for 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.

  • Register for a “getting ready” webinar from the WorldCat Discovery website.
  • Review and update the library’s information in the WorldCat Registry. Important details to update are the link to the library’s online catalog and IP addresses. For detailed instructions about configuring links to library catalogs, click on the link above and read the section entitled, “How to register deep-link syntaxes in the WorldCat Registry.”
  • Add e-content collections to the WorldCat knowledge base so users can link to full-text electronic content provided by their library. Libraries that subscribe to OCLC cataloging can request use of the WorldCat knowledge base now. Staff of libraries that already use the WorldCat knowledge base to support other OCLC services should review their library's collections to make sure they are current and that ILL policies are reflected correctly.
  • Prepare a list of e-content subscriptions to begin using the central index when the new service becomes available. The list will help your staff quickly find and enable their libraries' e-content collections in the OCLC Service Configuration Licensed Content and Metadata module.

What kind of training will be available for library staff?

OCLC will provide self-paced and live, virtual training for library staff when the service is released in March 2014. Details about training resources will be provided on the OCLC Support and Training website.


Get ready

Things to do now, in preparation for March 2014:

  1. Update your WorldCat Registry information
    It includes links to your online catalog, IP addresses and more.
  2. Request access to the WorldCat knowledge base
    Having holdings in the WorldCat knowledge base creates the links to your full-text e-content, and is included in an OCLC cataloging subscription. Request access now »
  3. Identify all of your subscription (licensed) database content
    So you can quickly turn it on from the central index, through OCLC Service Configuration. See what’s in the central index »  (XLS file)

WorldCat Discovery was developed and refined with feedback from more than 650 beta participants from the FirstSearch user community as well as a 30-member Advisory Group.