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Search Sites to Index Reference Materials

June 17, 2005|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — A leading library supplier is allowing the Internet's top search engines to index its previously restricted reference material, hoping to open an online avenue that transports more traffic to local libraries.

About 5,000 public, academic and military libraries nationwide are participating in the pilot program announced Thursday by Thomson Gale, a Farmington Hills, Mich.-based company that provides electronic versions of articles, encyclopedic references and 18th century books.

Many of those materials have been available for years through the individual websites operated by libraries that subscribe to Thomson Gale's data.

Although the information has proved useful to library patrons aware of the online resources, it hasn't been helping the masses who flock to search engines as their first stop for research and education, said Thomson Gale President Gordon Macomber.

"There are millions of Americans who are entitled to have access to this high-quality information, but have no earthly idea how to get to it," Macomber said. "We think this [project] will help liberate the information."

To make its library services more accessible, Thomson Gale is permitting Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. to include the material in their search indexes for the first time.

The search engines began scanning the Thomson Gale data Thursday, but it could be a while before the material starts to emerge in search results.

Not everyone will be able to view the Thomson Gale material when it turns up in a search result. Reading the full text requires membership in one of the participating libraries. That requirement threatens to frustrate search engine users whose local libraries either don't subscribe to Thomson Gale data or aren't participating in the pilot project.

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