This database searches the catalogs of thousands of libraries nationwide, and internationally to some extent, so it's possible to find all of the best books and other items covering a particular topic. WorldCat also offers an extremely efficient Interlibrary Loan request form for getting items delivered to Goucher. For more about locating items and ILLing with WorldCat, see our Interlibrary Loan Service page.
WorldCat offers more flexible field searching than does the online catalog.
The "Advanced Search" template -- our default screen -- offers a drop-down menu to the right of each of its three search boxes. Notice that you could choose to search for title words in one box while only demanding that words in the second box appear as "keywords" in the items retrieved, a broader search criteria. Experiment with these field combinations to retrieve more general or more focused results.
Field choices include phrase-searching
WorldCat defaults to putting an "AND" between each word you type, UNLESS you override this default by choosing one of the phrase types in the drop-down menus.
Here are examples of utilizing these phrase types -- or not -- to your benefit.
Suppose you're looking for works written by John Black. Typing "Black, John" and choosing the Author filed in the drop-down box yields more than 2,000 items. The first "hit" reveals, however, that not just works by John Black have been retrieved; any other items authored by a person with the name "John" (first, middle, or last) and another person with the name "Black" (first, middle, or last) are also part of your set. To limit to just books by John Black (200-some), select the Author Phrase field.
Conversely, sometimes you will get zero hits by typing in a complete title and choosing Title Phrase. If this happens, break up the title by typing one of its main words (or phrases) in one box, then a second main word in a second box, and so on, while choosing the field Title rather than Title Phrase for each box. This usually yields the expected work.
Truncation is not always effective in WorldCat!
Recent improvements to the database have improved its capacity to truncate. You can now attach the truncation symbol * to word roots as short as ethic, fund, or school and get a positive response. A title search of Ethic* does return items with either "ethics" or "ethical" in the title. However, medic* does not work: The database responds with an error message. So, to catch items that include either "medicine" or "medical" or "medic" you must enter all of these terms (and if you wanted -- "medics").
Using limiters to refine your search results
WorldCat is such a rich collection of items that frequently you'll retrieve sets larger than you care to examine. To refine your search to what most interests you, use the checkbox limiters that appear below the three main search boxes. Popular ways to limit a search include asking for English-language items only, books, only, or materials published within a certain time frame (which does require you to fill in the desired year range, such as 1930-1963.)