Wednesday, January 8, 2014

FamilySearch WorldCat Partnership

OCLCNearly a year ago FamilySearch and OCLC announced a partnership to exchange services. Search results from the OCLC catalog,, would include the holdings of the FamilySearch Salt Lake City Family History Library (FHL). Search results from the FamilySearch catalog (formerly the Family History Library Catalog) would included results from WorldCat.

FamilySearch catalog links to WorldCat and Archive GridI noticed several weeks ago that on the FamilySearch beta catalog search page FamilySearch had started showing links to OCLC’s WorldCat and Archive Grid websites.

Archive Grid is a research project by OCLC aimed at cataloging archival holdings. It includes entries from WorldCat as well as materials published on the Internet. (There’s a system called EAD tags that archives can use to make their archival finding aids discoverable on the Internet.) It currently catalogs over two million items from thousands of libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies.

A search for Oneida New York returned 1,194 items. Some were held by expected archives, like the Oneida Historical Society. But others were from less obvious archives. For example, while Royal H Loomis was born in Oneida County, New York, a collection of his papers is held by the University of California, Santa Barbara.

A little while ago James Tanner noticed that WorldCat had started returning results from the FamilySearch catalog. For example, I found a search for “Oneida County, New York deeds” returned items from the FamilySearch Family History Library as well as from other institutions.

A WorldCat item from the Family History Library

“FHL” is the WorldCat library code for the Family History Library, so adding “kw:FHL” to your WorldCat search will limit most results to those from the FHL.

WorldCat lacks the FamilySearch catalog’s special Surname search mode which returns family histories. To search for family histories about a particular surname, add “Family” after the surname. For example, to find family histories about the Brimhall family, search for “Brimhall Family.” This example not only finds 31 at the FHL, it finds another 300 at other institutions.

Because FamilySearch has added the holdings of some of its branch libraries into its catalog, WorldCat now returns results from those institutions as well. For example, WorldCat indicates that copies of Brimhall Family Story can be found both in Salt Lake and at the Mesa Arizona FamilySearch Library.

FamilySearch’s online book collection is not always treated as such by WorldCat. While FamilySearch catalogs all the books that it digitizes and publishes online, I’m not certain those scanned at partner institutions can be found by searching WorldCat. For example, Fort Wayne Gazette’s 1894 work, Art Souvenir of Representative Men… has been digitized, presumably at the Allen County Public Library, and is available on It is listed in the FamilySearch catalog, however I could not find on WorldCat the link to the FamilySearch catalog, which in turn would take me to the copy

The announced agreement provided for links going in both directions. I don’t believe the FamilySearch catalog is providing links for individual catalog entries yet, but I understand that is coming. It seems easy enough to support published materials, as those might be readily available at other libraries. But I’m curious to see if copies of FamilySearch microfilm at loaning institutions will be handled. Suppose for instance that copies of a FamilySearch microfilm are on permanent loan at various libraries around the country. Will a search of the FamilySearch catalog for that microfilm show a link to WorldCat? And will the WorldCat page list those libraries, indicating which one is closest to me?

It is exciting to see this partnership play out. I look forward to see the online integration.

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