See our most requested definitions including those for WorldCat,, and the central index.

Frequently asked questions

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Getting started with Order Services

What is the first step for access to WorldCat Discovery Services?

If you are a current OCLC FirstSearch subscriber, you need to register for a unique URL. If you are interested in a new subscription, for an individual library or as a member of a group, start the ordering processing by requesting a quote. To register for a unique URL or request a quote, see the Ordering page.

WorldCat Discovery requests and your URL

Can I customize my library's WorldCat Discovery URL?

Yes, but the change will not be immediate. Contact Order Services at to request a change to your library-specific URL. If you have concerns about the impact to WorldCat Local or to WorldShare Management Services, contact OCLC Support.

If your library uses other WorldShare services, including WorldShare ILL or WorldShare Management Services (WMS), we do not recommend making changes, as this also changes the URL used for those services.

My library does not have a cataloging subscription. What differences should I be aware of?

Libraries without a cataloging subscription will not see their holdings, nor will they see a MARC record button.

Staff accounts

What features are included in the staff view of WorldCat Discovery?

When a staff member signs into WorldCat Discovery, they can:

  • View OCLC numbers in the brief search results
  • Search by and see holding libraries’ OCLC symbols by using an “li:” search
  • Access MARC data (if your library has a cataloging subscription or uses CatExpress)

To create a staff account, see the instructions on the Using the OCLC Services account page.

How can I manage staff accounts and staff roles for the Discovery interface?

See WorldShare Admin Online Help for more information on setting up and managing staff accounts.

I have WorldShare credentials for Collection Manager, WorldShare ILL, or another service. Can I use the same credentials to sign in as staff to the WorldCat Discovery interface?

Yes. Once you have WorldShare credentials for a WorldShare product or service or for a WorldCat Discovery staff account, you can add services to your existing account as your library purchases or requests a service. To add services, see the Add services to your account section of the OCLC Services account page. You do NOT need to create a new WorldShare account.

Alternatively, sign in to your existing WorldShare account and use the dropdown in the top right corner to select "Add Services to my Account." Note that your institution must request the service and be provisioned by Order Services before you will be able to add a service to your account. If you need help, contact Order Services.

Can library staff view MARC records in the Discovery interface?

Yes. The display of MARC records is available for libraries that maintain up-to-date holdings in WorldCat (OCLC cataloging subscription required). Staff must log in to use staff-specific features. To create a staff account, see the instructions on using the OCLC Services account page.

WorldCat,, and enabling databases

What is the difference between WorldCat and What do I need to know about the central index?

WorldCat is a database that represents the “collective collection” of the world’s libraries, built through the contributions of librarians, and expanded and enhanced through individual, regional, and national programs. WorldCat represents electronic and digital materials, including the important, unique items found only in local libraries. is a web destination that brings together the contents of the WorldCat database, including the multiple formats contributed through the WorldCat Digital Collection Gateway and more than 200 million article citations from many popular databases.

The central index 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.

What you need to know about the central index:
  • Central index databases contain article citations from non-OCLC databases.
  • Bibliographic records display key metadata such as title, author, and publication information
  • Articles from non-OCLC central index databases display the database name as the source of the citation
  • Your library must subscribe to a central index database to enable it
  • Database contents in OCLC’s central index are generic and not specific to your library
  • OCLC has no way of knowing from the central index databases what content falls within your actual subscription coverage
  • Articles display as held by your library based on the assumption that, because your library has holdings on the serial where the article is found, you have access to the articles within that serial

Which libraries should enable OCLC databases? Non-OCLC databases?

With WorldCat Discovery, your library has access to the full suite of OCLC databases, including WorldCat. You can enable all or a subset of OCLC databases as search options available in your library’s unique WorldCat Discovery site.

You can also enable non-OCLC databases that you subscribe to. Your patrons will be able to search those databases along with OCLC databases and get a combined set of relevancy-ranked search results.

All libraries should review and enable both OCLC databases and the non-OCLC databases they subscribe to to best meet the needs of library staff and patrons.

How do I represent my subscription content?

You represent your subscription content in OCLC Service Configuration (Metasearch Content > Licensed Content and Databases). For information on which of your subscription databases you can add to your metasearch content, see the WorldCat Discovery Services documentation page.

Will my library's coverage information be reflected if I enable non-OCLC databases of my subscription content?

Content in the non-OCLC databases does not reflect your individual library subscription coverage. If you subscribe to a subset of the content available within a collection, you will see results attributed to your library that fall outside your actual coverage. If your library has a cataloging subscription, we recommend configuring your WorldCat knowledge base and selecting the “Use Knowledge Base Coverage to Determine Article Holdings” feature. That ensures that only content available as full text appears as held by your library.

What are the benefits of using the WorldCat knowledge base?

WorldCat knowledge base is accessible via WorldShare Collection Manager. For more information, see the Collection Manager support home page.


Where can I go to get more help with configuring my library’s WorldCat Discovery site?

Which WorldCat Discovery features are customizable?

You can:
  • Select the content and collections that are available to your users.
  • Add your library's logo and other branding, including customizing link and button colors.
  • Add links to open access content and other content from WorldCat master records.
  • Display a button to your patron-initiated ILL service, such as WorldShare ILL, ILLiad, or an OpenURL 1.0 (or higher) web-compliant form.
  • Specify the search results to represent your library's holdings first or present the results in a pure relevancy sort order (cataloging libraries only).

For complete instructions, see WorldCat Discovery settings and customizations.

Will my ILS interoperate with WorldCat Discovery to deliver real-time availability status?

The following ILSs interoperate to provide real-time availability:

  • Innovative Interfaces: Millennium, INNOPAC, INN-Reach, Sierra
  • SirsiDynix: Symphony, Unicorn, Horizon, iBistro
  • ExLibris: Voyager, Aleph
  • Axiell: OpenGalaxy Plus
  • OCLC: LBS, OLIB Z39.50-only interoperability: Koha
  • WorldShare Management Services (OCLC)


What advanced search options are provided for expert searchers?

All WorldCat Discovery Services users can use keyword, advanced, and command-line searching. These options are available in patron and staff views. The search labels supported by the Discovery interface are different than FirstSearch in Quick reference. For more information on the differences and searching the Discovery interface, see Searching in WorldCat Discovery.

Advanced searching options include the use of search labels, restricting searches to individual databases, and limiting searches to your library’s holdings.

Command-line searching allows expert searchers to create complex search strings incorporating index labels and Boolean operators.

For tutorials on searching, see the WorldCat Discovery Training page.


Branded URL  -  Central Index  -  Deep Links FirstSearch Base Package  -  FRBR  -  Knowledge Base  -  Open WorldCat  -  WorldCat Discovery Service  -  WorldCat Local  -  -  WorldShare (brand)  -  WorldShare ILL  -  WorldShare Management Services

Branded URL

A branded URL is a URL that includes a library-specific prefix. The presence of this prefix, which is assigned by OCLC, allows WorldCat Discovery to create a results list that displays the library’s holdings first, in descending order of relevancy, followed by holdings from other OCLC member libraries, also in descending order of relevancy. The library can change the default results display, and patrons can re-order results from that default display through the WorldCat Discovery interface.

Central Index

The central index is a rapidly-growing set of databases and collections from many content providers. For more information, see the content lists on the Documentation page.

Deep Links

Deep linking is the means by which Web users arrive directly at an item record in your online catalog. Deep linking helps information seekers cross the "last mile," going from results for a keyword search to the detailed record for a specific title, including a list of nearby WorldCat libraries that hold the item, to the local record in the selected library's OPAC. Deep links are configured in your library’s WorldCat Registry Online Catalog module.

FirstSearch Base Package

The FirstSearch base package is a collection of valuable resources for libraries of all types. The databases in the package include:

  • WorldCat
  • Electronic Books database (OCLC catalog of online electronic books available through libraries worldwide)
  • ArchiveGrid
  • OCLC ArticleFirst database
  • CAMIO – Catalog of Art Museum Images Online
  • OCLC FirstSearch Electronic Collections Online database (bibliographic index only)
  • OAIster
  • OCLC PapersFirst database
  • OCLC ProceedingsFirst database
  • WorldCat Dissertations and Theses
  • U.S. Government Printing Office GPO Monthly Catalog

In addition, a Base Package subscription includes CONTENTdm "quick start" hosted software at no additional charge. This software includes three Project Clients for collection building and 3,000 items and 10 GB of storage.


FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) is a 1998 recommendation of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) to restructure catalog databases to reflect the conceptual structure of information resources.

More technically, FRBR uses an entity-relationship model of metadata for information objects, instead of the single flat record concept underlying current cataloging standards. The FRBR model includes four levels of representation: work, expression, manifestation, and item.  Item displays in WorldCat Discovery Services interfaces use the FRBR model to present a view that shows a representative record and clusters related items under the Editions & Formats accordion.

Knowledge Base

The WorldCat knowledge base combines data about your library's electronic resources and linking features, enabling fast, reliable access while helping you better manage workflow associated with these materials.

Access the WorldCat knowledge base via the WorldShare Collection Manager application. For more information, see the Collection Manager support home page. See the release notes page for a complete list of collections in the knowledge base.

Open WorldCat (OWC), also known as is a Web portal to the WorldCat global catalog with a supporting program of data syndication that makes your library's collection discoverable virtually anywhere on the Web. allows more people outside the traditional library environment to find your reliable information and assistance through the Web sites they use every day. Participation in is included at no extra cost for libraries engaged in cooperative OCLC cataloging services and who have a subscription to WorldCat Discovery.

Information about your library's holdings and online services is actively spread across the Web via strategic partnerships with key sites such as Google and Yahoo!, as well as by social and distributed Web technologies such as APIs, widgets, mobile and social apps that appeal to users, other information providers and e-business.

The result: brings more information seekers to your catalog and services by way of major search engines; bookselling, bibliography and social networking sites; online content providers; browser toolbars; personalized home pages and other popular Web applications. Your local resources gain a global presence, become part of people's normal Web workflow and get in front of the increasing numbers of people who rely almost exclusively on the Internet.

WorldCat Discovery Services

WorldCat Discovery Services is a new suite of cloud-based applications that brings the FirstSearch and WorldCat Local services together. The new suite enables people to discover more than 1.5 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 Local

We are no longer accepting new subscriptions to WorldCat Local. WorldCat Discovery Services will eventually replace the WorldCat Local service. See the Overview for more information.

See Open WorldCat. The platform on which resides differs from the WorldCat Discovery platform.

WorldShare (brand)

OCLC WorldShare provides the shared infrastructure that allows libraries to share everything.  OCLC WorldShare is a set of integrated applications built on a cloud-based, software platform. The platform provides the cooperative technical infrastructure where WorldCat data and WorldShare applications work together. WorldShare Management Services offer a completely integrated, web-based set of library management applications that eliminate traditional silos and deliver more efficiency for everyone on your staff.

WorldShare ILL

WorldShare Interlibrary Loan is the service that replaced WorldCat Resource Sharing. The service centralizes workflows, provides functionality that speeds fulfillment of interlibrary loan requests, and saves time for your staff and users.

WorldShare Management Services

WorldShare Management Services provide a unified, Web-based environment that streamlines acquisitions, circulation, license management and metadata management workflows and offers a powerful discovery and delivery tool for library users.

Both replacing and standing apart from traditional ILS systems, OCLC’s cloud-based library management services enable libraries to share infrastructure costs and resources as well as to collaborate in new ways.