Gale's motto is "Power to the User," and, the company says, this equals "value to the library" by driving usage of products licensed by libraries for their patrons. To propel this product vision forward, Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, has been very busy lately working on an improved PowerSearch platform and developing new knowledge portals that tap Gale's rich content resources. On June 24, Gale officially launched PowerSearch 2.0, the enhanced version of the PowerSearch platform that first launched in 2002. PowerSearch 2.0 lets users search an individual InfoTrac resource or cross-search content in multiple Gale databases-now with a new interface that offers simplified browsing and a more weblike experience. The new platform will be implemented beginning this month for all customers. The company will be showing it to customers this week at the American Library Association's annual conference, along with Gale's just launched GREENR (Global Reference on the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources) and Career Transitions knowledge portals. It will also feature a live prototype of another knowledge portal, Grzimek's Animal Life, which will launch in September.
The PowerSearch 2.0 platform offers comprehensive access to authoritative reference, periodical, and primary source information. Key enhancements include more customization options, more advanced searching options, enhanced document display, and better navigation. PowerSearch 2.0 is designed to simplify browsing through Gale's more than 20,000 publications, providing the ability to search across more than 150 million documents. A list of the databases that take advantage of the new functionality is available at www.gale.cengage.com/powersearch/powersearch/databases.htm.
Improvements include the following:
- Web 2.0 sharing tools, including Delicious, MySpace, Reddit, Digg, Facebook, Newsvine, Twitter, and others, allow users to push interesting articles out to the web to share with others.
- ReadSpeaker (text-to-speech technology) allows users to have articles available from within the platform read aloud to them. All articles are fully downloadable in MP3 file format and can be played on an iPod or other audio devices.
- Addition of the "named user" functionality allows researchers to create custom profiles, name and save any search, and modify RSS feeds on the product's homepage.
- Search results can incorporate portals of context-sensitive multimedia (images, video, and podcasts).
- Documents can be translated on demand into 11 different languages.
An announcement in January 2009 about plans for PowerSearch 2.0 indicated that the platform would also allow for federated searching of additional databases, sites, and library catalogs not published by Gale. Associate publisher Jason Bass says it does handle federated search of external resources, but the company is evaluating its current federated search technology and will be making enhancements soon. There are subscription-based connector fees for non-Gale resources.
Kyle Cook, librarian at the Nashville Public Library, blogged quite positively about the new PowerSearch 2.0 implementation for the Tennessee Electronic Library (http://npltech.wordpress.com/2009/06/29/gale-hires-robot-readers-powersearch-2-0). He wrote: "The most improved part of 2.0 is the Publication Search, which had not seen an update since the nineties. The title lists are now infinitely sortable by format or subject. For example, you can quickly pull up all the full-text magazines that cover "Cooking." As you mouse-over the titles, you get the important coverage details: full-text and dates of run. Select a title and you can get an RSS feed that will alert you when new issues are available to read in PowerSearch. RSS feeds are also available for any PowerSearch you run."
On the GREENR Side
GREENR is a new electronic resource that offers authoritative reference content on the environment, energy, economic development, and natural resources. GREENR was designed with the end user in mind; it focuses on the study of sustainability and the environment.
GREENR aims to be a one-stop site for news, analysis, background information, video, and primary source documents and statistics, covering relevant categories such as energy systems, healthcare, food, climate change, population, international relations, and economic development. It has interactive maps, allowing users to browse by issue, country, or region and to search local-level content.
GREENR is the second knowledge portal that Gale has introduced-Gale calls it "a new generation of products from Gale that embody the qualities that users want and need in this Information Age." In December 2008, Gale launched Global Issues in Context, which offers global perspectives on issues of international importance and current world events and topics in the news related to these issues.
The key point about these portals is the user-friendly, weblike experience. With these portals, Gale has moved from a "search-and-retrieve environment to a browse-and-discover paradigm." Bass says there are more portals planned. The company will likely tap its vast encyclopedia assets, as it has done with the new Grzimek.
Turnkey Career Resource
The third Gale knowledge portal is a new electronic resource offering a comprehensive guide to career change. Launched on July 7, Career Transitions is a complete, guided, self-paced application that walks the individual through the process from assessing strengths and interests to exploring new opportunities to ultimately improving the chances of landing a job. Gale calls it "the essential tool to empower your community."
With Career Transitions users can do the following:
- Prepare-Build, save, retrieve, and update personal career information with a career toolkit
- Assess-Explore current skills, occupational knowledge, and interests and match them with fulfilling career paths
- Explore-Investigate thousands of career paths, industries, locations, and companies
- Improve-Find educational opportunities and take classes to increase hiring chances
- Apply-Search job listings from around the country that meet user criteria
Gale is partnering with Indeed.com for the job listings. Nader Qaimari, Gale's vice president of market strategy, says it seemed to be the most robust job site; it also strips out fake postings, such as work-from-home scams. "It's a different kind of product for Gale," he admitted, but it's very timely and useful. He says it's a unique product that draws on resources from across the Cengage Learning family. It links users to low-fee distance learning classes from Education To Go (ed2go), a part of Cengage Learning, to enhance specific skills and supplement current coursework.
Career Transitions is designed to be a turnkey career resource that saves staff time and effort and provides users with an easy-to-use tool to support their job searches from start to finish. It is marketed to libraries and career centers. We all know that libraries have been busier than ever in the current economic crisis-and probably one of the highest uses of public libraries is for help with job seeking, which is very staff-intensive work. So this should prove to be a popular and helpful resource.
Subscription pricing is based on population served and starts at $1,900 per year. There's a 25% discount offered for the next 3 months as well as discounts based on a state's unemployment rate (for example, a 14% percent discount for libraries in Michigan).