Infonautics - Electric Library

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(Note from the Washington State Library:  In order to participate in the Fall 1999 Washington State Databases Trial, each vendor was asked to address questions the Statewide Database Licensing Committee felt were most critical in order for library staff to evaluate products and vendors.  Please contact the vendor's representative, listed below, for additional information on this product.)

1. Describe the database product. Include information on subject scope, percentage of full-text, dates of coverage, target audience (including age ranges), and how often the contents are updated.

Electric Library

Electric Library, the flagship product of Infonautics Corporation, is the most comprehensive and easiest-to-use online reference tool for researchers of all ages. Designed to allow a novice user to become a proficient researcher in minutes, Electric Library also provides powerful, advanced search capabilities to for the experienced user. The natural language search engine allows users to enter a query in plain English. Electric Library automatically searches six different media sources - periodicals, newspapers/news wires, maps, pictures, radio/television/government transcripts and books/references/reference collections. All documents are full text and can be integrated into standard word processing and presentation programs. With Electric Library’s powerful navigation features, users quickly find the information they need, providing more time for analysis and synthesis. Electric Library is accessed via the Internet using either a standard web browser or Infonautics’ award-winning Windows or Macintosh browser software. Electric Library is the only database endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers.

Company History
Infonautics is a leading Internet information company committed to serving a singular, guiding purpose: to put a world of knowledge within everyone's reach. Founded in 1992, the company offers content-rich, affordable and easy-to-use services designed to achieve this singular purpose.

The company currently employs more than 175 full-time employees based in its offices in Wayne, PA, and New York City, NY. Infonautics has expanded its technical and support staffs to meet the increasing demand for its services. Infonautics is currently one of the largest providers of online database services to consumers and institutions in the United States.

Infonautics is a value added firm that provides access to the content, additional support to the customer and bundling of a variety of databases and publications from several publishers for the benefit of the customer. The value Infonautics adds to the original materials include providing additional information about each document in the collection which will help users find, sort, and understand information, quickly, easily, and thoroughly. Providing valuable on-line resources has been our primary and only focus. Today, Infonautics provides access to our many on-line services for hundreds of thousands of schools, libraries, colleges, businesses and individuals.

Electric Library has enjoyed tremendous growth in the education market. The number of new schools enrolled in the service has grown more than 100% in 1998 and is still going strong. Infonautics provides a wide range of access from a single school, to a school district to an entire state’s public schools and to many consortia. Infonautics creates partnerships with its customers to ensure that its products and services meet or exceed the needs of the marketplace, both today and in the future. Our commitment to customer support and satisfaction is unsurpassed in the industry.

A special note:
Electric Library is responding to two different Washington State Requests: The Washington State Library Fall Database Trial, and the Washington State Library National Newspaper Trial. The product is exactly the same for both trials. We have simply hilighted different content and functionality features for each response according to the request.

Content Overview
Electric Library is a single, comprehensive database of all-full text documents from a wide variety of sources. Full-text coverage in Electric Library ranges from two to eight years, with average coverage of four years. Coverage of full-text titles grows with time, with the exception of a few select titles, which have rolling coverage periods.

All documents (books, magazines, journals, TV and radio transcripts, newspapers, and news wires) on the service are full-text, indexed, and stored as flat ASCII text. All articles from these sources are included except letters to the editor, table of contents and other editorial notes.

Electric Library also contains a comprehensive collection of over 118,000 pictures and images, including illustrations and great works of art. In addition, Electric Library has more than 3,000 maps of cities, states, and countries from around the world. Images are stored and presented to end users in .jpg (JPEG) and .pjg (Progressive-JPEG) formats.

Users can select, download and use image content just as if it were full-text documents. All copyright information is built into the image and becomes part of the actual file when printed or saved.

Content in Electric Library is updated based on source type. Typically, content is update as follows:

Daily Newspapers - daily
News feeds - daily
Weekly magazines - 1-4 weeks
Monthly magazines - 4-8 weeks
Pictures - daily or as available
Broadcast Transcripts - weekly
Maps & books - as available

Electric Library is available for access through any standard web browser. Users also have the option of using Electric Library's specially designed browser software, which lets users take advantage of an Internet connection while limiting their ability to surf the Internet unmonitored. This means that the software can be loaded on virtually any machine in a school -- and users can use it with a modicum of supervision. Electric Library software is available at no charge. Available for both Macintosh and Windows, this kid-safe software has a friendly graphical interface that's easy to use and installs in seconds.

2. What are the hardware and software requirements for using all the features of the product?

Internet Connectivity

A standard TCP/IP Internet connection, dedicated access or a dial-up

(PPP or SLIP) connection. Data transmission from our service is provided at a speed of 10 Mb (megabit), accommodating even the fastest Internet connections. Minimum recommended modem speed is 14.4 Kbps.


386 or higher IBM-Compatible running Windows 3.1 or higher, 4MB RAM
4 MB free hard disk space.


68020 or better, System 7 or higher, 4MB RAM.(8MB recommended), 3 MB free hard disk space, Macintosh Drag and Drop, MacTCP or Open Transport.

All connections to Electric Library are made via the Internet. Average response time for queries to Electric Library is less than 2 seconds, assuming no Internet latency. Response times using our proprietary client software are faster than even the fastest web response times because our proprietary communications protocol eliminates the multiple communications layers required when transmitting over the web. Access is available via the Internet to both text-based and graphical web browsers.

All systems and content are maintained on-site in a controlled computer facility. A "DMZ"-style Internet firewall is in place with all databases and content residing on the "inside." Proxy host machines and a CISCO 7000 router comprise the firewall.

All document and user information is maintained in an Oracle RDBMS with full database and UNIX system security enabled. Information stored in database tables can be individually accessed by privileged employees in Customer Support, Finance, and Systems Administration.

3. Is remote access included for the subscription price?  If there are additional charges or requirements in order to offer remote access, please describe.   What methods of remote access are supported? 

Remote Access is included at no additional charge with our "Site License" packages.  We are able to provide authentication via remote access by permitting access to all users able to access a secure URL of the agency.

4. Please discuss any methods or assistance you offer regarding remote access patron verification and authentication.

As noted above, we are able to provide authentication via remote access by permitting access to all users able to access a secure URL of the agency.  Authentication for Electric Library is typically provided by one of two methods. The most common method, used for web access, is via IP domain. Additionally, for agencies using our proprietary Windows or Macintosh software, we are able to authenticate via a binary-encoded configuration file that resides on local computers. This is particularly helpful for dial-up connections that have dynamic IP addresses.  As a final option for individual users, separate passwords to access Electric Library can be made available, though this method is not preferred due to reduced security.

5. What end user delivery options, such as printing, emailing or faxing results, are available beyond just viewing results on the computer monitor?

The Web version of Electric Library has e-mail capabilities. Users simply enter an e-mail address in the space provided and Electric Library forwards a copy of the document. Users can print documents and/or cut and paste the documents into standard word processing and presentation programs.

6. What customer training is provided, and at what cost?

Training availability varies according to subscription scope and length and is evaluated at the time of sale.  User manuals, online help, and documents detailing the use of our service to fulfill state learning standards (along with other helpful publications) are provided with every subscription.

7. What customer and technical support is provided, including hours of operation.

Technical support is available via a toll free number and e-mail. Telephone support for Electric Library is available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. After hours support is also available via pager. E-mail support can be submitted anytime and is monitored during normal business hours. Responses to e-mails are answered within 24 hours.

8. Describe the statistics you provide, and discuss whether your statistical reporting complies with guidelines developed by the International Coalition of Library Consortia which may be found at .

Electric Library can provide reports monthly detailing number of queries, number of retrievals, and time connected to our service for each institution. Additionally, for each institution, reports showing the most accessed publications can be provided on a monthly basis. We believe that our reports comply with the International Coalition of Library Consortia guidelines – we can provide reporting on our sole database, by each set of IP addresses, by consortium, by username (where applicable), and on a monthly basis. Please note that those institutions using IP addresses for authentication to Electric Library would be unable to obtain reports of individual user activity (institutions authenticating via Username/Password would be able to retrieve this information, however).

9. Describe your pricing structure or formula for the product. If there are additional costs for retrieving full text, describe the pricing for this service. 

Infonautics Corporation has requested that pricing information not be posted on the web page.  The Washington State Library has Electric Library pricing for junior high/middle schools; high schools; public libraries; community colleges; and academic libraries.  Contact Jeanne Crisp at 360-704-5255 or [email protected] to receive a copy.

8. What is the minimum participation level (however you care to define it) that would be needed to allow participating libraries to receive a discount? What is the minimum discount for a group buy? Please clarify how you would treat existing library customers with regard to a group buy.

Discounts for group purchases are handled on a case by case basis and will be quoted based on numbers of libraries that express interest.

9.  Please provide the name and contact information (toll-free telephone number, email address, hours, etc.) for libraries to make further inquires.

K12 Schools in the State of Washington contact:

Jacin Espinet
1-800-860-9227 x 8838
[email protected]

Public Libraries or Academic Institutions in Washington contact:

Kristen Olejniczak
1-800-860-9227 x 6372
[email protected]

Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon libraries, contact:

Infonautics, 1-800-304-3542

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