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February 23, 2004


Well, I’m not sure how this one managed to get by me, but a big thanks to a certain librarian in Fairfax, CA who pointed out an article, “The InfoDiet: How Libraries Can Offer an Appetizing Alternative to Google,” in The Chronicle of Higher Education (02/20/04) that highlights this lovely resource.

RLG, RedLightGreen, is a search engine that searches over 120 million books. It offers a single search box (like Google) and a five star relevancy ranking system, but the interesting part is the results screen, which offers you suggestions on how to refine your search by subject, authors, and languages related to your search. Inside each item record, you can get citation information in four styles, and also link to see if your local library has the book. I love this idea. I want metasearch engines (like WebFeat) to take a page from RLG’s book, and include this kind of automated search-coaching into their products.

You can find out more about the project at RLG’s homepage.


  1. Walt Crawford Says:

    Since none of the people actually involved with RedLightGreen noticed this, I guess I should:

    “Over 12 million books” should probably be “over 120 million books” (although it’s certainly true that the latter figure is over 12 million).

    Probably more relevant, the database involved (the RLG Union Catalog, massaged for RedLightGreen purposes) includes more than 42 million “books” (as in distinct titles/editions).

    Caveat: I have no involvement in the project, but I sure am aware of database sizes here!

  2. Librarian in Black Says:

    Bah, Sarah’s typing skills betray her again. I knew it was 120 million, just left of the zero. Error corrected, and Walt is duly thanked!

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