Where is that Library? A Round-Up of Online Library Directories

[tweetmeme source=”Intellogist” only_single=false] Sometimes, searchers truly need to travel to the ends of the earth to locate a key piece of prior art.  Since an incredibly broad focus is needed to complete a thorough prior art search, it’s almost guaranteed that some key pieces of prior art won’t be available online.  If a searcher can’t locate the full text of an important piece of prior art in a free or subscription database, they may need to track down a print version of the document through WorldCat.  WorldCat, provided by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), can search content from over 10,000 libraries and includes around 1.5 billion items.  Searchers may also need to go to a library to search directly within obscure collections of grey literature, which often can only be found in print format and may not be indexed in online library catalogs like WorldCat.

Where can you easily find contact information on any type of library?  Online library directories provide a quick way to locate all the contact information and relevant links about a specific library anywhere in the world that you may need to contact for research purposes.  Read on for a round-up of online library directories!

  1. WorldCat Libraries Search – Search by library name, zip code,  state , or province in the WorldCat Libraries Search to locate a library listing which includes the address,  phone number (and other contact information, i.e. fax, email, etc), branch/affiliation information, and links to the library’s (or system’s) websites and online catalogs.  Recent items added by the library to WorldCat are also listed below the contact information.  According to WorldCat,  “if the information listed for this library is incorrect, authorized representatives of the library may update in the WorldCat Registry.”
  2. WorldCat Registry – Within the WorldCat Registry, users can search through simple or advanced search forms.  The advanced search form allows the user to filter by criteria like institution type, country, state or province, and optional identifier information.  The listing for each library includes address and contact information, links to online services, identifier codes, relationships (branches and affiliations), and policy information.
  3. Libdex – An index of libraries from around the world created by Bisca Investments. The site contains basic information about the libraries, such as contact information and address, their size, operating hours, and catalog software vendors. Links to a library’s public web catalog are also included for some entries. Users can contribute updated information to the site by clicking the “update” hyperlink under a library entry.
  4. Yahoo Libraries – The Libraries section on Yahoo! Directory allows users to locate the websites for libraries falling under predefined categories. The categories are divided into “Top Categories” (Public, Academic, Business, Digital, Librarians, etc) and “Additional Categories” (Archives, Arts Libraries, Commercial Library Services, etc). When a user selects a category in Yahoo! Directory, they can then select subcategories of that category until the results selection is filtered to the narrowest possible category. Bread-crumb navigation is available under the main heading of each category, where users can navigate through the hierarchal order they’ve followed via links listed under the main heading (e.g. “Directory > Reference > Libraries > Public Libraries > By Region”). The hierarchal navigation through categories and lists of relevant websites under each category in Yahoo! Directory is similar to the format of Intellogist Resource Finder.
  5. Directory of Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRCs) – A list of all libraries participating in the PTRC program, organized by state and city, is available on the USPTO website.  The listings each include a link to the library website and a phone number.
  6. Another useful site is Libweb,  a directory of library home pages created by Thomas Dowling, but an announcement on the homepage indicates that the site will be shut down in late 2011 and is currently no longer being updated.  The site is still accessible and searchable as of November 2011.

A library listing on WorldCat Registry.

Locating all relevant prior art is a difficult task, and these online directories are just a few resources out of thousands of available  tools for searching globally through both patent and non-patent literature.  An initial sweep of the prior art landscape through free and subscription database searches and even library searches may not locate all relevant prior art; a global, multi-lingual focus can be a critical element of a successful prior art search.


A global focus is a key part of Landon IP’s Scour the Earth™  searches, which  incorporate multiple components including searching across dozens of subscription-based English language patent and non-patent literature sources, manually searching in libraries, and searching natively in the major Asian and European languages across both patent and non-patent literature resources.


Are any online library directories missing from this list?  Let us know in the comments!


Update – Special thanks to @GrayVal on Twitter for the recommendation:

Directory of patent information centres (PATLIB) of the EPO – A directory of all information centers within the PATLIB network is available on the EPO website.

The directory is organized by country, IP rights covered, and services provided. Full records on each center include contact information, website link, hours of operation, IP rights covered, and descriptions of services provided.

Patent Information from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: