Reference Spotlight — WorldCat

Written by Jason Stuart, Reference Librarian

WorldCat is the world’s largest bibliographic database, containing the contents of 72,000 libraries in 170 countries and territories. On May 2, 2013, the 2,000,000,000th (two billionth) record was added to the WorldCat.

What can such an enormous database do for you?

Online Students

What do you do when you need a book in a hurry to complete an assignment? Although the Library’s InterLibrary Loan service will ship any book in our collection to you at no charge, sometimes in a fast-paced course, you may not have a week to wait.

When you are in a time crunch or the Library does not have the book you need in e-book form, WorldCat is just what you need. Input your zip code and WorldCat will search the catalog of most every public and academic library in your area.

Nearly all college and seminary libraries allow visitors to use their collections in-house. But even better, most academic libraries offer an “associate membership” for users not affiliated with the institution. If you live near a library with a useful collection for your research, the Regent Library will reimburse you up to $100 per year for an associate membership.

On-Campus Students

Sometimes you want to expand your research: perhaps your topic is obscure and resources are hard to come by, or maybe you just want to see what other materials are out there and available. If you find something you want to take a look at, simply click the ILLiad link provided in the record of the item you wish to request. WorldCat links directly to ILLiad, our InterLibrary Loan system, and even fills out the request form automatically.

If you don’t have time to wait for InterLibrary Loan, WorldCat will let you know if a resource is available locally. With a consortium card, available free from the Circulation Desk, you can check out materials at nineteen (19) Virginia Tidewater Consortium libraries.

Important Tip for Regent users

When using WorldCat, I recommend searching the web-based version optimized for Regent users at, which automatically lets you know whether an item is in the Regent Library, and if not, includes a link to our ILLiad system. If you are doing very sophisticated research, you might also want to use the Library’s subscription version of WorldCat, but most users will find the web-based version more intuitive and user-friendly.