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Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Fed-In-Print Online Catalog

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is one of twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks across the U.S. that, together with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., makes up the Federal Reserve System, the nation's central bank. Librarians at the San Francisco Fed chose Inmagic in the 1980s to make their index to Federal Reserve economic research, "Fed in Print," easily searchable. Today, they use DB/Text WebPublisher to make the Fed in Print database available worldwide through the San Francisco Web site.

Searchability: Issue of the 80s

When the Fed in Print collaboration began, each of the 13 libraries provided indexing for its bank's publications to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank. In the early 1980s, the index was prepared as a printed product using word-processing software. Then, in 1986, several of the banks purchased Inmagic DB/TextWorks. "Inmagic software was chosen to prepare the paper index with the 'side benefit' of creating a computerized database," said Diane Rosenberger, Systems Librarian at the San Francisco Fed.

"We tried for a long time to figure out how to make Fed in Print more publicly available," added Miriam Ciochon, Manager of the Research Library of the San Francisco Fed. "When the San Francisco Fed was getting ready to put up its Web site, we were very anxious to include Fed in Print. What we liked about Inmagic DB/TextWorks was that it can search on full text and accommodate multiple repeating fields--a feature that is still hard to find in knowledge-management products. In other products you almost need a programmer to make this function work, so Inmagic was very attractive as an alternative."

Web Publishing: Issue of the 90s

"When we learned that Inmagic was announcing a new Web publishing product, we were very interested," said Rosenberger. "Since DB/TextWorks was the underlying database for that product, most of the legwork was already done."

By now the San Francisco Fed had been Inmagic users for ten years, hosting the San Francisco Inmagic User Group meetings for some time. They asked Inmagic to mount a large sample of the Fed in Print database on Inmagic's Web page to show decision-makers how customers could access the information over the Internet. The ease of use for both the managers and end users, coupled with Inmagic's affordability and scalability, won approval at all levels.

"We (the librarians) designed the query screens, the report formats, and help screens, and with DB/Text WebPublisher we made our existing Inmagic database accessible to the world," said Rosenberger. The IT group was pleased because Inmagic's CGI (common gateway interface) easily associates with the software supporting the bank's Web site.

A Collaborative Effort

"Fed in Print has been up on the San Francisco Fed Web site for over 18 months now and contains approximately 12,500 records," said Ciochon. "From Fed in Print you can search all economic research of the Federal Reserve System back to 1986. We estimate that it grows at a rate of about 900 records per year."

According to Sandy Dye, coordinator of the updates in San Francisco, the libraries began with semi-annual updates to the database. In mid 1997 they began making monthly updates.

"You have 13 libraries' contributions to be coordinated for consistency and format," said Rosenberger. "Coupled with different levels of staffing and the volume of publication, it continues to be an interesting process."

The librarians at the San Francisco Fed receive indexed records from the other banks in a tagged format, usually via email, and combine them in the textbase prior to updating the Web site.

Diverse Demand

The research generated by economists within the Fed is sought by numerous audiences, according to Cathy Tunis, Assistant Chief Librarian at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. "We have patrons calling from all over the world--researchers from consulting firms, universities, and financial institutions who may not be aware of Fed in Print," said Tunis. "In the past, we would have to do a search of our own catalog, and give them some suggestions. Often, we'd refer them to other Fed banks to obtain the materials, which would then have to be supplied in hard copy via fax or the mail."

"We know that WebPublisher has been really useful for people accessing information outside of the Fed," said Ciochon. "But, it's been especially useful within the system. For example, if users want to see what a particular economist has written, they can search on 'author.' If they want to see if anyone from San Francisco has published a paper on 'x' topic, they can conduct a more narrow search. It's been a boon to internal communications as well."

Diane Mogren, librarian at the Cleveland, Ohio Federal Reserve Bank, concurred, "Being able to search concurrently by title, author, and subject headings makes it much easier." Recent statistical data indicates that Fed in Print experiences 150 hits per day.

Continuous Quality Improvement

"We're always trying to bring our information to the public in ways that make the most sense. In recent years we've encouraged the contributing banks to provide abstracts in addition to subject headings," added Rosenberger. "Using the 'Keyword' query box, a searcher covers the title, subject headings, and abstract fields all at once, and may find something that might not otherwise have been found. Just brace yourself if you put in a word like 'monetary,'" she continued. "More and more banks are putting the full text of documents on their Web sites, and we're providing direct links from Fed in Print to these sites. Inmagic's DB/Text WebPublisher has allowed us to disseminate information directly to users."

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Revised: 03/19/04