Searching in WorldCat® Discovery and interface features
Expert searches and query syntax
Frequently used indexes and syntax
FirstSearch & WorldCat Discovery differences
Record display of item bibliographic data
Although the default search from the search box automatically applies the keyword index, it is easy to construct a more nuanced search using indexes and Boolean operators. An "index" is defined as two characters followed by a colon or by an equal sign (for example "ti:"). Use a colon to search for the words anywhere in the specified index and an equal sign to perform a phrase search.
In WorldCat Discovery, searches that contain index labels and Boolean operators can be entered in any search box including those on the Advanced Search screen. Please note that if you use an index for one search term in the box, you must use index labels for all search terms.
Frequently used indexes and syntax:
WorldCat Discovery supports the use of (AND, OR, NOT). Boolean operators must be capitalized.
Index labels combined with Boolean operators can be entered in any search box in including the multiple search boxes on the Advanced Search screen. Boolean searches are processed in left to right order.
Approximate term queries
There are three operators for approximate term queries: asterisk(*), and question mark(?) or pound sign(#):
Enter the first three characters of the term (at a minimum) and follow with an asterisk (*).
Example of terms in search results: securit-y, securit-ies, or securit-ization
Example of search: securit*
Enter the first three characters of the term (at a minimum) and follow with a wildcard. WorldCat Discovery supports the use of two wildcard characters the pound sign (#) and the question mark (?).
Use the pound sign to represent a single character.
Use the question mark to match missing (zero) and up to nine characters including no additional characters.
FirstSearch & WorldCat Discovery differences
OCLC is synchronizing the use of query syntax and index labels across all WorldShare products and interfaces. Therefore, there are some differences between FirstSearch and WorldCat Discovery.
|FirstSearch to WorldCat Discovery|
|Index||in WorldCat Discovery
|Format/document type (dt:)
||Use x0: and x4: (See Searching WorldCat Indexes Searching WorldCat Indexes Format/Document Type for more information)|
|ISBN (number search)
Index label is optional
Hyphen is optional
|ISSN (number search)
Index label is optional
Hyphen is required when using index label
|Music/publisher number (number search)
|Music/publisher number (number phrase search)
Enter all letters and numbers; concatenate all punctuation and spaces up to a dash or double hyphen.
|OCLC Control Number
If you start a search with an OCLC number, use an index label for a following search term (unless you enter another OCLC number). See Searching WorldCat Indexes for more information.
|Publisher number (number search)
Renamed to Music/publisher number
|Publisher number (number phrase search)
Renamed to Music/publisher number
||To search date ranges, navigate to the "Advanced Search" screen and use the limiters to limit by year. The end year must be four digits.
These types of searches are not supported:
|Unsupported query syntax|
Record display of item bibliographic data
See how WorldCat Discovery displays item bibliographic data for records in your search results.
Dropdown lists & indexes in Advanced Search
Navigate to the Advanced Search screen by clicking on Advanced Search below the search bar in your interface. You will see multiple search boxes and the button to add or remove databases.
Indexes related to all the databases being searched and the most used WorldCat indexes are available in the Advanced Search dropdown lists. Phrase indexes are in the dropdown lists or you can enter them with an index label.
The default indexes for most collections will appear in the following order:
If a database does not have the title index, the substitute is keyword. If neither Title nor Keyword is available, then the first index in alphabetical order displays.
Add search fields with +Add row. When you add a search box, the default index is keyword. If keyword is not available for that database, then the first index in alphabetical order displays.
Please note that available indexes are specific to collections. Thus, while you are performing searches, changing databases could result in a selected index no longer being valid or available for the databases selected.
Limiters in Advanced Search
Within Advanced Search, options to limit your search are available at the bottom of the screen. The available limiters depend on what content you are searching: a single database, multiple databases, WorldCat, and so forth. Note that Year and Location (Libraries Worldwide, etc.) are always available.
Note: Search terms, indexes, and limiters do not persist when navigating from search results back to Advanced Search.
When searching a single database, limiters will appear in the following order (if they are available):
- Peer review
- Any other limiters in any order
When searching multiple databases, limiters will appear in the following order:
- Peer review (if available)
- Format (as represented in WorldCat.org)
Add and remove databases to searches
By default, some or all of a library's databases that are available in WorldCat Discovery will be selected. To view the default selections or to modify the selections for your search, navigate to the Advanced Search screen and click Add or remove databases. When the database selection panel is open, it displays an A to Z list of all of the databases available.
On the Advanced Search screen, you can see which databases are being searched by default. You can deselect databases to exclude them from your search and you can add databases that are available but are not searched by default. See the WorldCat Discovery settings and customizations page and see the section Select default databases for your your search box for instructions to modify your library's administrative settings (in OCLC Service Configuration).
Database groups (B)
If you have configured database groups, you will see them listed on the Advanced Search screen. See the Select default databases for your your search box section on the Settings and Configuration page for details on administrative settings for database groups.
The Reset link restores the selections to the default databases as defined in the administrative settings.
Question mark icons
Database descriptions are displayed by clicking the question mark icon beside database names. Descriptions are supplied by OCLC and cannot be changed by individual libraries. Descriptions are displayed in the language of the browser or of the locale. Databases show a lock icon if authentication is required to access content.
You can create URLs that link directly to your library's Advanced Search screen. The URL can include either a single database or a group of databases.
To create an Advanced Search URL:
- Use this base template and replace my-library with your library's WorldCat Discovery prefix:
- Find the Target IDs for the databases you want to include in the WorldCat Discovery content list (.xlsx).
- Enter the Target IDs after the equal sign (
=) in the base template. If you are including multiple Target IDs, separate each Target ID with
Example URL with Target IDs for Academic OneFile, Gale Virtual Reference Library, and ProQuest Newsstand:
When a patron clicks on the URL you constructed, they will be taken to your library's Advanced Search screen, and they will be able to search through the databases you selected in step 2. For more information on Target IDs, see Parameters and Target IDs, below.
You can embed a search box on your library's website and have options to tailor it for your patrons' needs. A basic search box will mimic the behavior of the search box on the homepage of your Discovery interface:
- The search will be keyword
- It will search your default databases
- You can use search labels and query syntax in the search box as desired
See the examples to help you consider possibilities for your library. The examples use some of the parameters and target IDs as discussed below. Look to the Community Center for examples used by libraries.
See example code. Please note that the code is meant to provide a visual example for demonstration only. It is not necessarily viable.
- Example code for a basic search box as a .txt file
- Example code that includes parameters as a .html file
Note that you can view the code for the .html page. Click the link to open the .html page. Right click anywhere in the body of the page and select "view page source" (or another similar option offered with our browser).
You can configure your search box to query a particular database or group of databases (that differ from your default database selections). Limiting searches to particular databases requires database Target IDs. Find Target IDs in the WorldCat Discovery content list (.xlsx).
The Target ID is a number assigned to each collection. You can use the Target ID as a reference number when you configure access to the databases you subscribe to, when you are configuring your WorldCat Discovery search box, and when you read Google Analytics or custom reports.
Users can also modify the databases used for a search by editing the database Target ID(s) in the URL. This option is especially useful if you perform a search and then wish to quickly modify the database(s) you are searching. Target IDs are included in the content list.
Note that if you add or change a database via adding or changing a target ID in the URL, your new database selection(s) will display as a selected database in search results and in Advanced Search.
Example Target IDs and associated collections:
1271 Business Source Complete; 1708 Academic Search Complete; 1953 ERIC
URL after searching Business Source Complete:
The URL can be modified to add a second and a third database to the search. The Target IDs are separated by %2C as shown:
|Sort option||Sort value|
|Library and Relevance||LIBRARY_PLUS_RELEVANCE|
|Date (Oldest First)||DATE|
|Date (Newest First)||DATE_D|
|Most Widely Held||LIBRARYCOUNT|
|Scope option||Scope value|
|Level 1 (your library)||MY_LIBRARIES|
|Level 2 (consortium or group)||LEVEL2_LIBRARIES|
|Level 3 (second consortium or group)||LEVEL3_LIBRARIES|
Search query without parameters:
Search queries that include parameters for database, sort and/or scope:
Using filters on the left of the results screen
You can narrow the set of results that were returned from your initial search by using the filters available in the left column of the results screen. Simply check the boxes beside the filter(s) you desire.
|Section||Filters allow you to:||Notes:|
||Change the sort order of the results||Could include: Library and Relevance, Relevance Only, Author (A-Z), Date (Oldest First), Date (Newest First), Most Widely Held, Title (A-Z)
||Change the library/libraries searched|
||Limit to Full Text or Peer Reviewed articles
||The "Content" section is available only if your search results include articles|
||Limit to a particular format|
||Limit to results from a single database|
||Select works by one or more authors|
|Year:||Narrow the results to the last 5 years, choose a custom year range, or search a single year||To search a single year, you must type the year in both fields. For example: from 2015 to 2015
|Language:||Filter for results in a particular language|
To remove a filter and return to the previous results set, remove the filter(s) from the "Selected Filters" area or use your browser’s back button.
Share, cite and save icons
After you perform a search in WorldCat Discovery, items in your search results will include icons for users to quickly add records to a list, email a record or a list of records, copy a record link, or export a citation. The icons are available from the brief results, the action panel, and on the detailed record (mobile view). The sharing icon is available when users view the page showing a list they have created. The option to email a record is not available on the MARC record.
The Share icon allows you to:
Choose Email record to email a single record. Note that you also have the option to add a record to a list and email the list at the end of your session.
Record link (permalink)
Record link takes you to a page with a perma-link displayed. Copy the link and use it as desired.
The Cite icon allows you to:
Export a citation
Cite the record using EndNote or RefWorks.
Format a citation
Generate and copy a citation in APA, MLA or Chicago style
The Save icon:
Allows you to add record information to My List. Email a list to yourself or share it with others. Records added to a list are stored temporarily for the session until the session times out.
Using "My List"
Users can save up to one hundred records in a list. When users reach the limit, the interface displays text as a warning message: "Your list is full. Please remove records from your list or clear your list to add more records." Users can close the message and continue to search; However, they will not be able to add another record to the list until one or more records are removed.
Users can remove one record at a time by using the icon beside each record. Users can delete all records on the list by clicking Remove all. Privacy notice: If you are using a public computer and you leave the terminal, your list will be visible to others until the session times out. For your privacy, consider using Remove all to delete all items from your list.
What is included when users email a record or a list of records?
Each record users email will contain the following information, if available:
Item "held by" information
Note: When users view an emailed list, records appear in the order displayed in the search results/database. Thus, results might not display in the order that matches the sequence with which users added them to a list.
About staff features
Library staff has the option to Sign In to the WorldCat Discovery interface in order to benefit from the staff features that are not visible to patrons. The staff view of WorldCat Discovery includes the:
- OCLC number in the brief record shown in search results
- Option to display the MARC record (available for libraries that maintain up-to-date holdings in WorldCat and have an OCLC cataloging or CatExpress subscription)
- Ability to search by and see holding libraries’ OCLC symbols
- Staff view of WorldShare ILL (if applicable)