Collectanea DeskTop Library: The Future of Corporate End-User Searching?

By Duberman, Josh | Online, March-April 1998 | Go to article overview

Collectanea DeskTop Library: The Future of Corporate End-User Searching?


Duberman, Josh, Online


With fixed-fee pricing, end-user searching, full-text articles, a Web interface, and enterprise-wide desk-top/intranet delivery, Collectanea is a prime example of the evolving new model for providing information. Traditional information vendors should be watching this service closely and taking notes. The future of corporate end-user searching may look a lot like EBSCO Publishing's Collectanea.

CONTENT AND STRUCTURE

Content is still king in providing information, and EBSCO, one of the world's largest subscription houses, has a built-in advantage in negotiating for reprint rights with publishers. Collectanea's sources include more than 1,600 periodicals and 750 pamphlets in full text; abstracts are available from an additional 1,000 titles. Coverage extends back to 1990 for 25% of the full-text titles, and more than 50% of the abstracted titles. A full list of the journals covered is available to registered users from the Collectanea Web site (http://www. collectanea.com), where you can register for a free 15-day evaluation.

EBSCO Publishing's goal is for the electronic periodical file to approximate the hard copy as closely as possible. For any given journal, charts and graphs, publisher corrections, author's biographical information, acknowledgments, footnotes, references, appendices, and inset articles may be covered. Items such as Letters to the Editor, ads, calendars, and death notices are not included, nor are specific sections prohibited by contract.

In addition, Collectanea provides links to over 6,000 reviewed Web resources. Directory and company information from Disclosure and Dun & Bradstreet is also viewable, and Thomas Register records are scheduled for availability by the time this review is printed.

SEARCH AND DISPLAY

Collectanea's InQuery search engine permits natural language processing, Boolean searching, and a "Find Related Records" feature. (For more information on InQuery, see http:// www.sovereign-hill.com/products/ inquery.html.) The search interface is intuitive and requires minimal training.

At the initial search screen, choose from the following options: article database by current year or full collection; companies by name or product/industry; reviewed Web sites; or subject headings. Alternatively, you can browse several of these databases or click through to the Expanded Search page, which allows Boolean queries.

Answers are initially displayed in order of decreasing relevance, but can be re-sorted by date, title or source; they can also be limited to those with full text (indicated with an icon). When the full text is searched using the natural language query, a full-text excerpt that is the most relevant passage based on the questions is displayed. Some articles include graphics or tables, and some have links to information about companies mentioned.

Unfortunately, you can only retrieve full-text items singly rather than checking multiple items from the list and retrieving them all at once. I found this to be an annoying waste of time, since the answer list had to be continually reloaded after each full-text article was displayed. It's also not possible to build and manipulate multiple answer sets.

Subject and Related Record Databases

The Searchable Subject Database is actually the Library of Congress subject headings (LCSH). After identifying headings of interest, you can use them as queries to search either Collectanea articles or other Internet sites from within Collectanea. However, since these query terms are LCSH, the most useful external site that can be searched is the Library of Congress itself. …

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