Letter: Smithsonian records readily searchable

Regarding "Schwartz: Focusing on searchability," all of the databases in the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS) are sitemapped according to the international standard and have been crawled by many, many robots. SIRIS has 1,679,277 records available via the sitemaps to crawlers such as Googlebot. According to Google, 1,567,170 records from SIRIS, or 93 percent, are included in the Google index. We started working on the sitemaps in February 2007 and worked directly with Google engineers in June to enhance the accessibility and ranking of our records.

We understand that the public expects to find all Smithsonian information in one system, but as stated on our home page, currently SIRIS contains only information from the Smithsonian's libraries, archives and the Smithsonian American Art Museum's research databases. The museum collections information is available through other systems described on the Smithsonian's home page. However, efforts are under way to make one-stop searching available to the public in the future.

We continue to work hard to raise the visibility of our data to the public through multiple channels, including search engines.

Ching-hsien Wang and George Bowman
Smithsonian Institution Research Information System

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