Friday, January 30, 2009

E-Book Sources: AccessMyLibrary is a web based federated search product produced by Gale (Cengage), which prefers to market the product as a "search engine", although it is more similar in technology and results to a portal or metasearch engine. It is marketed as providing community-wide access to Thomson databases and encyclopedias licensed by public, school, or college libraries. Thomas Gale provides access to its plethora of databases via one portal interface which can be incorporated into a library's own OPAC, or remotely through a web mounted interface which uses library card holders to log-in to gain access.

Typically, the content is available directly from a library web page, or through the Internet that shows possible libraries in the user's area, and gives access if the user can enter a card number or other identifier from a participating library. Libraries may customize the menu of data sources which are available to its patrons, although this may not be explained to users.

The content available on AccessMyLibrary is also visible in major general-purpose search engines, and is similarly available to the user through patron identification. However, it does not provide access to records outside of Gale products, so only records from Thomson Gale sources that are already on the Internet will be found through AccessMyLibrary and other search engines, like Google, for example. Results that are available on the Internet may appear in a different format in AccessMyLibrary.

The site currently offers nearly 30 million articles from leading magazines like Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Consumer Reports and daily newspapers at no cost.

Many librarians may consider this a valuable service, as it provides a convenient way of access control where control by internet address is not practical. Some may be put off by the description of this as a "free" service, since the library pays Gale directly for patron access.

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