Make a list. WorldCat’s in town.

WorldCat has been doing lots of great things lately to allow it’s users (that’s us, library people) to use their data.  The WorldCat API is a great thing to investigate because it gives you lots of control over the bibliographic data that gets displayed.  It also takes some time and programming skills to make good use of it though.

For those looking for a simpler solution, WorldCat has a few simple Widgets that can easily be embedded in a web page.  In this post, we’ll look at WorldCat’s list widget as a way to quickly and easily display a collection of books (and possibly other materials) on a web page.

First things first. You need a WorldCat account.  You already have one, right? If not, create one here (and shame on you!).

Creating lists in WorldCat

After you have an account and have logged in at, you have everything you need to start creating a list other than the list itself.  Here’s what to do next:

  1. Decide what you want to make a list of.
  2. Search for things related to that topic. (I’m going to make a list of books about APIs).

    an image of a search box filled in with my search terms (api and su:online social networks)

    My expertly-crafted WorldCat search

  3. Click to view the record for an item you want to add to your list.
  4. Above the item title, you’ll notice a small link that says “Add to list”. Click it.
  5. In the pop-up box, you can either create a new list or use an existing list. (I’m creating a new list call ‘API books’.)
    • If you’re creating a new list, you’ll have to repeat steps 4 and 5 and choose the list you’ve just created.

      The pop-up box for adding your item to a list

      Select a list or create a new list to put your item in.

  6. If you’re successful, you’ll see a confirmation message at the top of the screen.

    A confirmation message, saying "this item has been added to your list <listname>.

    You'll see this message if your item has been added successfully.

  7. Repeat steps 2 through 6 until you have added everything you want.

The  list widget: first steps

The My Worldcat menu has the 'My Lists' link where you can view all the lists you have created.

Choose 'My Lists' from the 'My WorldCat' menu to see your lists and get your list id.

Now you’re ready to turn your list into a widget!  You need one important piece of information about your list before we can do this though: the list id.

  1. Choose ‘My Lists’ from the ‘My WorldCat’ menu
  2. Select the list that you wish to use
  3. Note the number at the end of the URL for your list
  4. This number is your list id
  5. Jot this down somewhere where you can find it again

The list widget: finally!

Okay. Now we’re ready to finally make our widget.

  1. Start by heading to the widgets section of
  2. Choose ‘WorldCat list widget’.  (At some point, be sure to check out the other widgets and tools WorldCat offers.)
  3. Copy and paste the provided code into your web page using your favorite HTML editor.

    a preview of the worldcat list widget and the code to copy into your web page.

    Copy and paste this code

  4. Replace the part of the code that says **listId** with your list’s ID.
  5. View the beautiful results!

That’s it!

Any additional items you decide to add to your list will automatically (magically?) show up in your WorldCat List widget.

Use it to add some dynamic content and interactivity to your research guides, post it on your personal site to let people know what you’re reading, or help a faculty member create a list of suggested readings for a course.

Addendum: WorldCat Local

If you’re lucky enough to have WorldCat Local at your institution, you can insert this information and direct users to your WorldCat Local implementation rather than the general  You’ll need to add this to the URL in the <script> tag.

For instance, at Towson, our WorldCat Local URL is  So, in my URL, I need to add &myLocal=towsonuniversity.

The resulting code would look like this:
<script language="javascript" src=""></script>