One of the most useful online resources for the avid researcher is WorldCat, “the world’s largest network of library content and services”. Thousands of libraries around the world provide OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) with information about their collection content, including books, periodicals, microfilm, DVDs, and CDs. All of this content is then integrated in the WorldCat database, essentially creating one gigantic online library catalog. While not all libraries and research institutions participate, many public libraries, universities, and even the Library of Congress list their materials in WorldCat. Best of all, since August of 2006, access is free to the public.
This development has major implications for researchers. Now, if your local library doesn’t have a particular item you need for your studies, you can go to WorldCat and quickly determine which (if any) institution does own it. WorldCat will even link you directly to the institution’s website. Armed with this knowledge, you can ask your local library’s Interlibrary Loan department if they are able to order the item for you. Or you can simply visit the owning institution yourself.
Try WorldCat yourself at: http://www.worldcat.org