In a move designed to provide better information resources for students, Thomson Corp. has expanded the online information available to purchasers of textbooks from Thomson publishers. Faculty and students using textbooks from Wadsworth, Brooks/Cole, Duxbury, Heinle, Schirmer, and South-Western will now have access to 10 million full-text online articles to support research and classroom learning. The InfoTrac College Edition, an online periodical library that is packaged exclusively with Thomson textbooks, contains 3,800 full-text journals. Purchasing college texts from these publishers includes a free pass code, providing 24/7 access to full-text online articles for 4 months.
According to the announcement, Thomson textbook publishers began including InfoTrac College Edition in 1997. The 2002 version represents an expansion of 400-percent more full-text journals and an additional 9 million articles that cross all disciplines and curricula. The articles in the library—which include refereed academic journals as well as popular press resources—are updated daily and indexed. The archive dates back to 1980, providing 22 years of background information.
"This is a great example of how Thomson companies can integrate information to form a better learning solution," said Gale Group president Allen W. Paschal. "In this case the textbook forms the core, while these easily accessed articles illuminate and provide context."
"InfoTrac College Edition brings a wide range of timely and relevant information to both faculty and students in a convenient, easy-to-use online tool," said Ron Dunn, president and CEO of Thomson Learning's Academic Group. "Faculty can use the service to introduce current examples and news into lectures, classroom discussions, and homework assignments, and students can conduct online research to supplement and enrich the content of their textbooks."
According to Scott Smith, vice president of business development for Gale Group (http://www.gale.com), the Thomson unit that publishes InfoTrac College Edition, the enhanced information available through the product serves as a tool to keep the textbook current and represents the integration of reference information with current news information. It also takes advantage of Thomson's ability to integrate information resources from multiple units within the vast Thomson enterprise.
When asked whether students could extend the InfoTrac access beyond the provided 4-month period, Smith said there were no provisions in place to renew or purchase additional access. When asked about a textbook that might be used for more than one semester, he claimed that this has not been an issue for them.
Gary Price, in comments on his Virtual Acquisition Shelf site (http://resourceshelf.blogspot.com), said: "The bundling of database access with textbooks is not new and can be a tremendous tool. However, what about the duplication of resources, wasted energy of librarians, and financial issues for the students/faculty who already have access to these sources from their university library or local public library?"
Smith said that use of the InfoTrac College Edition obviously creates awareness of the InfoTrac brand and raises the visibility for this type of information resource. Gale hopes this then drives students into the library and actually increases the use of library-provided electronic resources. He sees the product as a way to "connect the dots between the classroom and the library." Of course, Gale also hopes that if an academic or public library doesn't subscribe to InfoTrac, that its brand-aware patrons will request that it do so.