Thomson's Gale chose the American Library Associaton's Midwinter Meeting to debut Consulta, its first Spanish-language Resource Center. The new product combines reference content from Océano Grupo Editorial, some of which has never before been available online in the U.S., with Gale reference content.
The Consulta collection includes over 100 Gale and Océano reference publications, 60 full-text journals, over 1,600 primary source documents, and some 6,200 images. The company plans to continue to expand its line of Spanish-language products and services to help academic, school, and public libraries serve the Latino community, which now ranks as the largest minority in the U.S.
"Our goal with the entire Spanish-language program has been to provide libraries with products that expand their reach to a wider universe of patrons, products that improve their service to communities that have been under-served," said Allen Paschal, president of Gale. "Consulta is an ideal example of that goal in action. It serves a wide variety of reference needs, delivering a complete online solution in a single search."
Frank Menchaca, vice president and publisher of Macmillan Reference USA, pointed to the fast expansion of the Latino market. "The U.S. Census showed the Latino community in the U.S. is 37.5 million. It's the largest minority. Twenty-eight million or 11 percent of the U.S. population speak Spanish at home. They used to be concentrated as an urban population, but now the Yakima Valley in Washington state shows major growth. In Georgia, the poultry business is attracting Florida immigrants. It's astounding how things are changing in the Latino population. For example, in New York City the Latino population was always mainly Puerto Rican, now it's been taken over by Dominicans."
Gale's relationship with Océano began in 2001, when Gale began distributing Océano print titles in North America and Océano launched a program to translate Gale works into Spanish. Gale pioneered in developing periodical databases in Spanish with Informé, which includes indexing, text, and images from popular Hispanic magazines.
The Consulta interface works like other Gale Resource Centers-but en Espanol. It has Basic and Advanced search modes as well as search paths for Name, Timeline/Chronology, and the Image Gallery. The product also carries several bilingual Spanish dictionaries covering both to and from English, French, and German, as well as synonyms and antonyms. The Image Gallery includes full-color photographs, maps, and illustrations. Around 10,500 chronology records with 1- to 2-sentence descriptions of key events extend the graphic timeline.
Reference titles include the Spanish translations for over 100 Gale reference publications plus original Spanish language reference publications from Océano. Subject matter extends across a wide range-arts, biography, politics, geography, history, science and technology, health, etc.
Spanish-language journals from around the world include Americas, Folklore Americano, Hispamérica, Proceso, Quimera, Siempre!, Vuelta, etc. Primary source documents include the complete works of Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, and Cervantes, along with a collection of historical documents chronicling the history of the Spanish-speaking world.
The package includes sets of Web links. Menchaca pointed out that clicking on the product icon in Consulta and then on the world will link users to six categories of Web sites. For example, the Spanish language Web page links to the Cervantes Institute, the National Library of Spain, etc.
The Consulta product updates daily, according to the different schedules of the journals, but it does not offer newspapers or news wire services, according to Menchaca. However, he said that Gale is currently looking into adding newspapers. He also said that all the journals on Consulta will archive and some already have archives on file.
In the future, Gale plans to develop other products with Océano, probably in the areas of literature, history, and education. However, Menchaca stated that the company has no plans to open up any of the content to access through pay-per-view options, either directly or through third-party vendors.
For further information on Consulta, Gale has a fact sheet available in PDF format for download (http://www.gale.com/pdf/facts/consult.pdf). At presstime, the sheet did not include a full list of all the titles in Consulta, but Menchaca assured us the company planned to put such a list on the Web site within a week or two.
Gale licenses Consulta to libraries. Prices vary depending upon the audience and institution. Menchaca said that usually Gale Resource Centers, including Consulta, run from $3,000 to $5,000 for colleges and universities and from $2,000 to $4,000 for schools. However he pointed out that even at the highest licensing price, an annual subscription to Consulta would still represent only 20 to 25 percent of the cost of purchasing all the sources in print.
I asked Katherine Blackmer Reyes, Ethnic Studies librarian for California State University—Sacramento, about her impressions of the Consulta product. She indicated that she had something of a bias. Her collection is very strong in Spanish-language reference tools, but she wants to expand the collection of full-text journals. She found the collection of journals in Consulta too small to satisfy her interests, but she thought that public and school libraries might find Consulta useful, since these libraries might need the reference material more and make special use of the biographies and images. However, she indicated that she planned to keep an eye on the growth of Consulta and re-visit her purchasing decision in the future.