WorldCat Gives Students Modern Access to Public Libraries
WorldCat is the catalog system that lets you search most public libraries across the nation, and has updated their website to reflect the growing social networking trend. Once setting up an account, you can then manage your profile, which allows you to do such cliché things as upload your picture, list your interests and link to your personal website or blog. Then you can list your favorite libraries, rate and review the books that you have read and also follow people with similar reading habits as you or who keep a list that you might be interested in. You can also follow individual people via RSS or push your own RSS feed to your social network of choice, such as Twitter, FriendFeed, or MySpace. If you spy a book that is worth owning, you can click straight to its page on Amazon.com, indicating that WorldCat may also have a new revenue stream aiding these developments.
The MobileWorldCat site has been developed (by OCLC) to give you powerful search capability while on the go. They have added some other services as well, such as a bibliography builder, a search plug-in for Firefox and Facebook application. On the nerdy side, there is a new Search API, ISBN and ISSN web services allow you to interact with data on over 18 million titles, one-click export to EndNote or RefWorks, and they even publish a monthly list of the top 20 most viewed items. Overall, these were much needed changes that return relevance to the company, which was not making the greatest use of its central position in inter-library information flow. They are continuing to add new services and features, although I have yet to see any clear roadmap for their long-term plans. Perhaps someone from WorldCat would like to comment?