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Monday, 31st January 2011

State Library of Kansas Releases State History Database, Powered by Gale

From the AP:

Researchers will be able to access materials relating to Kansas history from 1854, when it became an official territory, through 1865. Kansas entered the Union on Jan. 29, 1861.

The materials include personal narratives, memoirs, pamphlets, political speeches, sermons and songs from the period. The database contains 197 documents and 20,000 pages of text, photos and maps.

Direct to Database: Kansas History: Territorial Thought Civil War Year (1854-1865)
The database is free and open to all users. No password or login required.

To commemorate Kansas' 150th anniversary, GaleCengage Learning created a unique historical database containing nearly 200 documents for the State Library. This digital archive documents the people, the places, the ideas, and the events of Kansas history years 1854-1865. Drawn from the Sabin Collection and other Gale sources, the archive provides access to a wide variety of documents including personal narratives and memoirs, pamphlets and political speeches, sermons and songs, legal treatises and children's books. Many of the sources included in this archive are not accessible anywhere else.

A database for a special event is a great idea and it could be just the beginning.

In today's example, historians, students, and others get access to a product built specifically for a specific event, in this case Kansas history.

However, the concept could be extended and researchers could use databases that focus on a topic, person, location, etc. and built prior to the search session.

It would be great if every searcher could find what they wanted quickly and efficiently but it's probably not going to happen. Of course, if users get comfortable with smaller "pre-focused* perhaps they can slowly but surely grow to use larger databases (if needed).

A smaller, pre-focused database might also calm user anxiety about having to search and find material from a massive database (aka needle/haystack). Of course, if needed, two or more databases could be searched using federated technology.

Btw, this idea will work for databases that are smaller in size (than larger databases from Gale, ProQuest, EBSCO, Factiva, etc.) from the outset.

Info Pro skills would be crucial in building a pre-focused database along with analyzing search logs and getting feedback from users so that each database would best meet the needs of the searcher.

* Perhaps "hyperdatabase" would be a better term? Similar to hypernews and hyperadvertising. 


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