Another Step Toward Linked Libraries

A Virginia company lets users search a unique mix of traditional and Internet resources

A Virginia company has introduced a new service designed to make finding information electronically easier and quicker. Library Corp. in Reston, Va., has created what it calls the world's largest index, NlightN, (pronounced enlighten) which features information from more than 500 public and private databases.

Users can access the service over the World Wide Web, and NlightN offers key word searching of Web resources. It has licensed Carnegie Mellon's Lycos Web catalog, but its search capabilities are not limited to resources available on the Internet.

NlightN offers full-text indexing of 14 newswire services,

including PR NewsWire, Investment Wire and Knight-Ridder. It also includes more traditional indexes such as the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, and access to other information providers such as the Library of Congress, the National Library of Medicine, the British Library, U.S. Patents and many others.

The service is different from anything currently available because of the mix of searchable databases, as well as Web resources, that it offers. It also operates exclusively over the Web. Other online services, such as Lexis-Nexis and Dialog have established Web presences and do allow searching, but their primary method of access is through a direct dial-up.

Lexis-Nexis does not consider NlightN a competitor, said Judi Schultz, spokeswoman for the company. In the Nexis section alone, there are 5,000 databases, all of which are publications that run the gamut from general news to specific business area. Lexis-Nexis is not an index service; it offers full-text searches of documents and is primarily used by researchers, lawyers, and people, such as journalists or marketers, that need current, accurate information on a variety of topics, Schultz said.

Like Lexis-Nexis, NlightN is not free. Pricing for NlightN is transaction based, rather than per minute. Prices start at 10 cents for an NlightN search that produces successful results, said Brower Murphy, CEO of Library Corp. and creator of NlightN. If the result is not what the user wanted, they do not pay. For example, if you wanted an Internet address, you would pay 10 cents for a successful search. If you wanted to order a dissertation from a university you might pay $10, while a book from a publisher might cost $30, Murphy said.

The costs are substantially less then what you might see if you were searching a service such as Dialog, Murphy said.

The service, which has been in development since 1990, went online May 8. This was slightly earlier than planned because information about NlightN was leaked to the press and the company believed they had to go live. However, they are not yet up to full access capacity.

There are four T1 lines currently in operation, with additional capacity to be added in about a week. Murphy won't reveal the number of visitors, but does say, "We don't want to turn on more traffic right now." Some of the visitors can be attributed to articles in certain editions of Business Week as well as Information Today .

NlightN expects more than one million hits - or visits - a day when it is at full capacity.

Users have to register to order, but the Web site does allow free visits so users can see what the service is about. Once users complete the registration form and give their credit-card number, either by E-mail, fax or phone, they are sent a password in approximately one hour, he said.

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