Indexing eases Web searches
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Apr 26, 2001
The GILS Maintenance Agency of the U.S. Geological Survey
Arizona is testing an online indexing system to enhance the quality of Web
searches for public information.
Find-It! Arizona (www.findit.lib.az.us), the
state's Government Information Locator Service pilot project, began last
fall and will run through June. The pilot is being performed by the Arizona
State Library, Archives and Public Records agency in collaboration with
six academic and public libraries
If successful, it will be expanded to include state agencies and possibly
county and local government sites.
GILS would give the public "one-stop shopping" for more useful and accurate
searches, said Janet Fisher, director of the agency's research division.
Like flipping through a library's card catalog, users search the bibliographic
information of a tagged Web document in a GILS system rather than the full
text of documents. Meta tags, which are essentially special HTML tags, are
embedded within the documents and can include keywords, subject terms, descriptions,
publication titles, authors, dates created and contact information.
"Meta tagging...increases the precision of the search because just getting
a whole lot of hits doesn't do a whole lot of good," Fisher said. "[Meta
tags] bring relevant materials up to the top."
Susan Alden, a library consultant with the agency, said the state based
its design architecture on Washington state's GILS system. At least 20 other
states have a GILS system.
Arizona is using Hiawatha Island Software Company Inc.'s TagGen metadata
tagging software and MSFindIt as its search engine. MSFindIt is freeware
originally developed by Microsoft Consulting to help Rhode Island deliver
a GILS system.
Although state agencies are not yet participating, some are being trained
in meta tagging, which she said is easy to learn and takes about five minutes
per Web document.
The state received federal funding for the project but will need state funding
to continue the program, Fisher said. Because the state legislature's session
ends before the pilot does, Fisher said she was unsure where funding stood.
But she said GILS would be a great benefit to a new portal the state is
Libraries participating in the GILS pilot include the Phoenix Public Library,
the Mesa Public Library and the Tucson-Pima Public Library as well as the
libraries at the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern
GILS was originally a federal initiative as a networked information service
across all federal agencies. However lack of commitment, oversight, guidelines
and goals hampered the initiative.