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The goal of the Global Information Locator Service is to make it easier for people to find all of the information they need.
Every day, mountains of data, research, and analysis are created by government, industry, and other institutions. And every day--driven by warp-speed advances in computer and communications technology--the information creation rate accelerates.
How can we make information accessible and usable--information already in cultural treasure-houses, on the Internet today, and blasting at us in the 21st Century?
How can we ensure that people can deal effectively with the mountains of information they’ll be facing - and not be buried beneath them?
The Global Information Locator Service (GILS) is a revolutionary new approach designed to address one of the most crucial challenges we will face in the 21st Century: enabling people to find and retrieve information easily even as information sources expand and diversify. Fundamentally, GILS is about managing information content, not just picking new information technologies.
GILS defines an open, low-cost, and scalable standard so that governments, companies, or other organizations can help searchers find collections of information, as well as specific information in the collections. GILS works for organizations large or small, technically advanced or just starting out. Anything you can regard as information, you can describe using GILS, from printed documents, to lists of experts, to complex data. For example, a Clearinghouse for Geospatial Data extends GILS to help searchers find map products and answer questions using the vast range of data referenced to places on the Earth.
GILS is an open standard for searching basic information descriptions. As part of how an organization manages information content, these "locator records" give users inside and outside the organization a simple way to find information. Such descriptions may be inserted into Web documents with tools like TagGen, generated from databases with tools like MetaStar and Microsoft Access; or edited by catalogers and just stored as documents.
Providers offer locator records over the Internet through GILS-compliant software, including Internet search engines like Alta Vista, DOCS-Fulcrum, and Ultraseek; database systems like Oracle; or traditional library catalog systems like SIRSI. Providers can also choose free GILS-compliant software from sources around the world.
For information users, GILS offers a standard way to find information by its description--whether a specific document, an information service, a collection of information, or an entire organization. Having a common standard allows searchers to find information across institutions that may be separated by geography, charter, focus, or government.
When used to describe broad information collections, GILS locators communicate the basic essentials of the content of an information collection. Searchers use GILS records to navigate quickly and easily to the collection of interest. Within a collection, searchers may find an individual item, or may chose to find referrals to other collections.
Anyone who has used a library can use GILS. Based on the ISO 23950 search standard, GILS includes the most commonly understood concepts by which people worldwide find information sources in libraries--concepts like Title, Author, Publisher, Date, and Place. A GILS locator record is a kind of souped-up version of your trusty library catalog record.
Technologies may come and go, but the content of information resources must not get lost in the shuffle. The common search approach available through GILS allows us to leverage our treasure-houses of accumulated knowledge, exploit the full breadth of the Internet today--and position us for the Information Age as we enter the 21st Century.
GILS initiatives take many forms. Among the the most common are those dealing with public access to government information, including spatial (map) data and information resources. Here is a partial list of such initiatives.
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