Search Tips: Classic Catalog and Libraries Worldwide

Which catalog will do the best search for my needs?

Both Libraries Worldwide (Worldcat) and Classic Catalog have advantages and disadvantages, depending on the type of search you need to do. Each system performs searches differently across very different platforms, so if you were to perform the same search in each system, the results could be very different. Below is a brief overview of how the systems compare.

See the Finding Books page or download the Search Guide (PDF) for detailed advice on searching.

  Libraries Worldwide (Worldcat) Classic Catalog
How does the basic search work? Employs a Google-like free text keyword search. You can use the Advanced Search or command codes to search by fields (author, title, or subject). For assistance, see the WorldCat help page. Depends on "fielded searches." You choose what element of the record (author, title, subject, call number, etc.) to search.
What does this system search? Resources in libraries around the world. Most resources that are owned by Cornell University Library, including many online resources to which the Library provides access. A majority of the resources available from our Borrow Direct partner libraries. In the Advanced Search mode, you can limit your search by language.  You can also limit your search to a specific library within the Cornell system, and access course reserves. Items held physically by Cornell University Library or electronic resources to which the Library subscribes. Compared to Library Catalog, this system has all Cornell subscribed ebooks, journal titles, recent issues of print journals, and books on order or in the process of being added to the collection. You can also limit your search to a specific library within the Cornell system, access course reserves, and search by local fields such as donor and collection names.
Does the system search journal articles? Yes. Searches for articles within some journals. Includes citations for articles included in the following sources: ArticleFirst (articles from a wide range of journals in all subjects); MEDLINE (medicine and health); GPO (U.S. government publications); and ERIC (education). "Get it Cornell" links are provided to help locate the articles in full-text. No. Searches books, audiovisual materials, sound recordings, and many other formats, but does not search for articles within journals. You will need to search separate databases to find articles. If you have only a journal abbreviation, check JAbbr to find the full journal title.
What are the differences in the search results? Search results are relevance-ranked, but with Cornell-held items appearing before items from other libraries. Results can be sorted by relevance, relevance and location, author, title, and date. You can also narrow your results using facets. Search results can be manipulated in various ways, but they are not ranked in terms of relevance.
How can I retrieve non-Cornell materials? You can find and request non-Cornell items without leaving Worldcat. To request an item, click on this button: You need to search a separate database to find non-Cornell items. You can then request items through interlibrary loan and Borrow Direct.
What else does this system allow me to do? View cover art and reviews when they are available. Mark, save, and e-mail citations or download them to your citation management tool. Sign-up for a free account to create personalized lists, bibliographies, and to contribute reviews. Mark, save, and e-mail citations. View which items you have checked out and renew materials.
What types of materials may have better search results? Materials not owned by Cornell University Library that are retrievable through interlibrary loan and Borrow Direct.
  • Law resources (texts of treaties, codes, session laws, and specific pieces of legislation).
  • Some items from the Music Library and in the Rare and Manuscript Collections.
  • Listings for materials included in some large online collections, such as Eighteenth Century Collection Online (ECCO) and Early English Books Online (EEBO).
  • Large, multi-volume sets and/or serials.
  • Cornell's copies of some older journal titles.
  • Cornell records for books on order or in the process of being added to the collection, including recent issues of print journals.
  • Some e-books.