Thursday, April 16, 2009

Free Comprehensive Online Public Access Catalogs (OPACs)

All serious researchers and students are familiar with OCLC's FirstSearch WorldCat database, which aggregates bibliographic records from more than 71,000 libraries with 135 million records in all formats (books, journals, videos, audio records, etc.). Unfortunately, this is a fee-based service that is only accessible through the library of one's institution. What if you are on the road and, for whatever reason, do not have access to OCLC FirstSearch? Below are three free Online Public Access Catalogs (OPACs) and one fulltext digital journals collection that are comprehensive enough for most scholarly research. Unless you are searching for the most abstruse or esoteric item, these free alternatives are more than sufficent for your research:


  1. WorldCat is available freely on the web at

  2. Thanks, Lorcan for this update. Yes, I'm aware of the free WorldCat, but I'm thinking of the institutional version of WorldCat through the FirstSearch interface, which isn't free. But you're right, the free version is good enough for typical searches.