ltr: Vol. 44 Issue 6: p. 39
Chapter 7: Summary
Jennifer L Ward
Steve Shadle
Pam Mofjeld


The University of Washington Libraries, in collaboration with OCLC, began a pilot project that resulted in the creation and launch of a new discovery and delivery platform called WorldCat Local. It enables users to search what were previously three separate catalogs as well as five article databases. The search interface is simple, which research has shown that users prefer.1 WorldCat Local also integrates what were previously separate delivery systems, resulting in a seamless, easier-to-use service. WorldCat Local debuted on April 30, 2007, when the University of Washington Libraries made it the default search box on its home page. The impact on delivery has been impressive, with users requesting and getting far more materials than when we had separate “silos” for discovery and delivery. WorldCat Local provides a new service environment to the library user. Because WorldCat Local integrates a number of data sources (local library catalog, consortial library catalog, digital collections, article databases) and library services (local and consortial catalog requesting, interlibrary loan, link resolving, direct full-text linking, and online reference services), it is important to have the functional experts in all of these areas involved in planning and implementation. This article explores why such a tool was desirable; describes various aspects of the implementation, the effect of usability on development, and the impact on discovery and delivery; and discusses future plans.

WorldCat Local has reduced the complexity of resource discovery and delivery. It is a service that has been driven by user needs and has been tested by our users. New features that have improved the user experience at the University of Washington include these:

  • a simple search box interface that searches all of WorldCat but identifies and surfaces UW and Summit content within initial results displays (thus virtually integrating the 100 million cataloged items and 50 million article citations that separately appear in three library and five citation databases)
  • record displays that integrate local real-time availability and status information and provide the most appropriate fulfillment options based on information in WorldCat and local records (thus virtually integrating three separate requesting streams as well as providing delivery through local link resolution)
  • elimination of article-based silos by incorporating article content in all discovery and delivery systems
  • use of the existing interface, which includes many next-generation/Web 2.0 features: faceted browse, FRBR-ized results sets, citation formatting, cover art, relevancy ranking of results, user-contributed content, ability to build and save lists, and a multilingual interface
  • major reduction in the number of “dead ends” in the discovery/delivery process
  • local display customization that integrates University of Washington “look and feel” and that includes links to local library accounts and online reference services
  • non-Roman script display for all OCLC records containing vernacular data
  • monthly platform-level release of new features identified through user testing and feedback

WorldCat Local implementation has resulted in a more seamless discovery and delivery user experience. We've experienced increased use of our electronic resources and borrowing through Summit and interlibrary loan. We've positioned ourselves to be able to syndicate information about the rich resources of the UW Libraries into the users’ environment. The best case for WorldCat Local comes from one of our users:

This is not a question, it's feedback. The new search catalog, WorldCat, is AMAZING compared to the old University of Washington library search. It's one of those things I wished we'd had, and then, all the sudden it was there. Bravo!

WorldCat Local isn't perfect, but OCLC is committed to making changes to improve it. The WorldCat Local road map includes

  • FRBR/editions display improvements
  • local holdings records
  • local notes, local URLs, branch locations
  • Amazon, EMRO (media) reviews
  • tagging
  • federated search
  • shibbolized WorldCat account authentication

Tools such as WorldCat Local provide us the means to have tremendous impact on our users' success. We're fond of saying that you need to plan for success, which may mean changing policies and practices, expanding services, and shifting resources and staffing. In summary, our suggestions for planning for success include

  • having the right people involved in implementation
  • staying focused on user needs
  • being willing to change policies and practices
  • supporting staffing as delivery increases

Article Categories:
  • Information Science
  • Library Science


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