Did you know that the National Heritage Museum's Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives (below) has the distinction of being the first Masonic library to add its bibliographic records to the OCLC WorldCat database?
WorldCat is the world's most comprehensive online resource for finding items held in libraries, making those records available to researchers worldwide. WorldCat is a union catalog – accessible at www.worldcat.org – that allows users to simultaneously search the holdings of the 10,000+ libraries that contribute to it. They will now find the holdings of the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives – more than 18,000 items – among them.
Why is this important? For one, it increases the Library and Archives’ visibility, promotes its collections, and helps us better serve those interested in our unique and important collections. Because of the strength of our Masonic and fraternal collections, we anticipate that researchers who don’t yet know about our library will find us while searching for materials in WorldCat. In many cases, they may find that we are the only library in WorldCat that owns a particular book. We believe that this is a win-win situation for both our institution and for researchers interested in Freemasonry, fraternalism, and American history.
For the many people who already know about the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives, the library’s own online catalog is an invaluable tool that allows researchers to search just the Library and Archives collections and find records containing information specific to the library’s own copies (e.g. important former owners). Most of the holdings of the library’s book collection are represented in the catalog. In order to provide greater access to the archival collections, the Library and Archives has begun adding collection-level Archives records to the online catalog.