[Web4lib] Worldcat sidebar

Karen Coyle kcoyle at kcoyle.net
Fri Nov 3 14:17:43 EST 2006

In Open Worldcat there is a sidebar with your retrieved set that gives 
authors, languages, and dates followed by numbers in parentheses for how 
many of each appears in the retrieved set. However, it clearly is 
incomplete, that it is doesn't include all authors or dates, and I 
cannot find any explanation of it in their help screens. My guess is 
that they only include the top "n" from each category.

I stumbled upon this after looking at the Google Books Blog 
(http://booksearch.blogspot.com/) where someone had found a 1907 book on 
shopping in Paris. Since "shopping" and "Paris" are in the title, I 
assumed this was the search -- and indeed that search brought up this 
book as #1. It links to 26 libraries that hold the book. The person said 
that without GBS she would never have found this book, so I decided to 
see how the same search would work in Worldcat. (In other words, I 
wanted to prove to myself that a library search would have been 
successful if the poster had thought to do that instead of Google 
Books.) The Worldcat search shows many books and there is no way to 
limit to the earlier date, which is where I came to the above question.

This is an example of serendipity and how happy people are with 
interesting finds. In the library search there are a number of current 
books on shopping in Paris, so a person actually looking to shop there 
would have probably done better with the library search. Google Books, 
however, is providing a lot of fun by surfacing old and odd items. Like 
my visits to the stacks where I gravitate to the obviously older 
bindings, mainly for the entertainment value.

Karen Coyle / Digital Library Consultant
kcoyle at kcoyle.net http://www.kcoyle.net
ph.: 510-540-7596
fx.: 510-848-3913
mo.: 510-435-8234

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