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A New Improved WorldCat to Help You Locate Books

A few weeks ago, WorldCat displayed a home screen banner promising that a new website was coming. The wait is over and WorldCat has a new look and new features that you'll want to explore for your genealogy research, no matter where it takes you.

A New Improved WorldCat to Help You Locate Books

Keep in mind that WorldCat is a worldwide library catalog. According to the new website it features:

  • 405 Million Books
  • 440 Million Articles
  • 25 Million Sound Recordings
  • 10 Million Musical Scores
  • 6 Million Maps
  • 30 Million Theses/Dissertations

What this means for you is a large catalog of materials that can help you learn more about your ancestor.

Membership Has Privileges

Before we look at a WorldCat search, let me reiterate something I have discussed on Legacy Tech Zone videos in the past. You don't have to have a free WorldCat account to use it, but there are benefits to one. All you need is an email address and password. Your experience using WorldCat will be richer, and you will have access to more features.


If you already have a WorldCat account, you can transfer it to the new website. You will need to transfer it first before you sign-in. If you already have an account, do not start a new account because you will lose all your saved lists and libraries. Transferring allows you to retain everything you had saved on the old WorldCat website.

A WorldCat Search

Let me show you a search to get a sense of how WorldCat is improved. From the WorldCat home screen, I did a search for Snowflake, Arizona. The default search is Items (look to the left of the search box). But you can change that default search to Libraries or Lists if you have an account.


I received 1336 results for my keyword search, which I can narrow down with the tools on the far left. This is a feature that was present in the old WorldCat website and on most library and archive catalog websites.

Search on snowflake

Because I’m signed in to my account and I have designated some libraries as favorites (including the Family History Library) I can narrow my search to show just my favorites. This is great especially when I'm planning a research trip. Narrowing by the Family History Library took my list down to 77 results.

FHL results

Here’s the card catalog view of one of my results. Notice that the list of libraries the book is found in has a makeover and on the right, I can also choose a place to buy the book.



Even though I narrowed this list to the Family History Library, WorldCat still shows me other libraries with this book. In that list of libraries, the Family History Library has a green star because it is one of my favorite libraries.

FHL favorite

One of the benefits of WorldCat was some of the features it included like source citations. When you are looking at a result, under the book icon are three buttons. The first icon allows me to add the book to one of my WorldCat lists. This is where having a WorldCat account is critical. 



Next, the button with a set of quote marks allows me to copy and paste a source citation.


Finally, the last button is a share button for Facebook, Twitter, email, or a link.


Not Just a Book Catalog


Don’t forget that WorldCat has more than just books. I narrowed my original search to Archival Materials, which opens up some great genealogically relevant records not found on the usual familiar genealogy websites.

Now's the Time to use WorldCat

Have you used WorldCat? Now’s a good time to start. With new, improved features and an updated look, it’s a must-have catalog for the genealogist.


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.



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As a librarian I use it a LOT, but I also love it for my genealogy work...I noticed the change at work this week and will spend some time this long weekend getting more familiar with the new site :)

what happened to the simple search which showed me worldwide library locations of my book, not just some of them near me??

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