As Google has moved from web search into more diverse information services & applications (More Google Products) the library community has been working to become a part of some of these developments rather than standing on the sidelines. As what use to be considered library services, were being implimented by Google & other search engines on the web. Most recently the project receiving the most publicity has been the massive Google book scanning project with a growing number of large libraries.
But OCLC ( Online Computer Library Center, Inc.) which provides services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend and preserve library materials in 112 countries,has also been active for sometime, in working with Google to get their millions of records of library holdings, exposed and searchable on the web.
Before 2006, OCLC had implimented a function called “Open WorldCat”, with limited data subsets of its records, made available through Open WorldCat partner sites, such as Google, Yahoo!, and others. ( See previous post : OCLC to Open WorldCat Searching to the World ) This function inserted “Find in a Library” results within regular search engine results. But they could easily get lost among all the other search hits.
In July 2006, OCLC decided to make the entire contents of their bibliographic database freely available online with its own unique url (http://www.worldcat.org/ ). OCLC partnered with key search engines such as Google, Google Books, Yahoo! Search and Windows Live Search, that index WorldCat data for popular and unique works. These partners would provide links to WorldCat.org and/or other access to WorldCat-based information.
At present Google has a “Library catalogs” search option that searches OCLC’s WorldCat. But it is a bit tricky to get to. A user has to click on the general Google “Advanced Search” link, then on the “Google Book Search” link on the bottom of the page, and on the resulting page, clicking on the “Advanced Book Search” link, which finally brings one to a search page where the “Library catalogs” search can be selected !
This month OCLC took another important step to further make its resources available & searchable on the web with an agreement with Google to exchange data that will facilitate the discovery of library collections through Google search services. Google gets WorldCat-derived MARC records from OCLC member libraries who are participating in the Google Book Search™ program. OCLC will get data & links for the Google digitized books that it can then add to the WorldCat database to represent the digitized collections of OCLC member libraries in WorldCat. Users should be able to find books in the Google scanned collection or in the holdings of the WorldCat libraries .
Hopefully, under this new agreement, the access to OCLC WorlCat records will be more seamless and less convoluted than in the past.