The library is open 24 hours
- By Bill Murray
- Jul 21, 1997
The system at http://thomas.loc.gov has become a
well-known World Wide Web resource for bills, the Congressional Record and committee
proceedings. The library chose InQuery software from Sovereign Hill Software Inc. of
Dedham, Mass., to perform Boolean and relevancy searches in Thomas as well as the Library
of Congress' American Memory Collection.
InQuery's relevancy rankings made Thomas available to more users by allowing
plain-English searches. Boolean searches require some knowledge of how to apply Boolean
Dean Wilder, a recently retired senior systems analyst at the library, said users are
making as many as 30,000 searches each day in the American Memory Collection, the largest
known multimedia Web repository.
The collection has more than 100,000 digital images and could hold as many as 5 million
by 2000. Images reside on two eight-processor IBM Corp. RS/6000 servers, and users can
view them with Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator browsers.
Wilder said the collection includes tens of thousands of photographs, recorded
speeches, online books and 150 movies from the turn of the century. Contractors and
library personnel keyed in the data, scanned digitized images and used object-character
recognition for inputting text images.
The library also used InQuery to develop the Legislative Information System that helps
Congress manage its internal information. InQuery also powers the Experimental Search
System, through which users can search 11 million items including the library's catalog,
the National Digital Library and bills from the 93rd Congress onward.
Wilder said the experimental system is the most complex of the resources built with
InQuery, and it has benefited from lessons learned with the other searchable systems.
InQuery 4.1 runs under Microsoft Windows NT on PCs and on Unix platforms from Digital
Equipment Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Silicon Graphics Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc. The
software starts at $499 for a 10-seat license.
The Library of Congress bought the software directly. Chris Wright, vice president of
marketing at Sovereign Hill, said the company is negotiating a General Services
Administration schedule contract.
Contact Sovereign Hill Software at 617-407-7700.