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November 24, 2004

Researching publications online with ebrary

ebrary is a Palo Alto company that builds online searchable databases of books, maps and other publications.

Ebrary takes PDF versions of publications -- typically supplied by publishers -- rips them apart and reconstructs them so they can be entered into a searchable database.

A downloadable piece of software called the ebrary Reader embeds itself into Web browsers and allows users to view the documents, aided by a bevy of features not available in standard PDF readers.

Clicking on a word within an ebrary document, for example, triggers a pop-up menu that allows you to highlight text, look up the word in a dictionary, or search for it within the document, the ebrary database or the entire Web.

Searching for ``Wahhabism'' in one book about the Middle East, for example, spawns links to other books that mention the word. The tool inspires discovery in a way that printed text never could.

``You can explore from one book out to others,'' said David Bass, senior vice president for sales and marketing.

Ebrary usually sells its databases of content to academic libraries. But the company also is starting to make sales to public libraries.

Although users typically first encounter ebrary at their library of choice, they can also access the technology from home, through a library account.

Students, researchers -- or anyone else using the system -- can electronically highlight words or passages, scribble notes in the ``margins'' of the books and save that information for access later through their home computers.

``So even if a library has limited hours, they can still offer library services,'' said Warnock, ebrary's chief executive.

Ebrary's been around for nearly six years, but the company has grown tremendously in the past year or so. Its collection now totals 50,000 to 60,000 titles, from books and reports to journals and sheet music.

The 30-person company is privately held and is partially funded by three major publishers, Random House Ventures, Pearson and McGraw-Hill.

Source: Mercury News

Posted by seomasters at November 24, 2004 02:09 PM | TrackBack