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Music Research Tools: WorldCat


WorldCat is a tool that searches library holdings from around the globe.

WorldCat: Profile

What's so great about WorldCat?


WorldCat (or world catalog) is a resource that searches the holdings of libraries all around the all the libraries meme

That's 72,000 libraries.

To provide some perspective, that would be like everyone in Iowa City having a library. 


WorldCat is the source you should use to locate books, scores, and recordings that you do not find in InfoHawk. This is because if another library has the item, chances are, you can borrow it using Iowa's Interlibrary Loan/UBorrow services. globe icon

WorldCat records have a link titled "Libraries worldwide that own item" that you can use to see which libraries have the items you seek. Records also have a "Request item" link that will redirect you to Iowa's Interlibrary Loan service, where you can complete a form to ask that us to borrow the item from another library so you can use it.

It's useful to take a look at the number of holding libraries because the more libraries that have the item, the more likely it is that Iowa can borrow it. If the list tells you there are 40 holding libraries and two of them are in the region, you'll probably get the item and in a reasonable amount of time, too. If there are two holding libraries and they are both in Europe, well, maybe not so much.

Keep in mind that ILL isn't Amazon - you'll need to budget a week or so for books, scores, and recordings to be shipped and recceived here at Iowa. However, unlike Amazon, ILL is a free service.


person reading book iconThere may be a time when you need to determine if and when an item was published. 

WorldCat, because it contains over 2 billion records, is a good resource for finding out the publication status of, say, that lesser known musical work by that composer whose sonata you played two years ago. It's also good for identifying various published editions of a musical work.


magnifying glass examining document iconThere are two ways you can access WorldCat. There's the paid database version that's listed on the Music Library's homepage, which has an old blue gray interface, but which also has amazing advanced search features (hint - you should use the advanced search).

You can also access WorldCat at, which is freely available on the web. That means you'll be able to use WorldCat to find books, scores, and recordings at local and not-so-local libraries even after you've graduated from Iowa.

Ask a Librarian

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Katie Buehner
Contact: Website
Subjects: Dance, Music, Theatre Arts