Did you know . . .
That the Global Knowledge Base has over 20,000 searchable records in it?
In fact, as of this writing (19 February), it has 20,061 searchable records, contributed by some 180 libraries. Thanks to all our editors, who have helped get us to this milestone, and special kudos to editor Sybil Finemel, who activated the 20,000th record.
We know of no database of its kind—answers provided by librarians worldwide—to come near this in volume. Although most of the records are in the English language, the 20,061 do include records in 10 other languages.
Dr. David Lankes, of the Syracuse Information Institute, said “[This milestone] shows the great things that can happen when libraries work together. Of course, for me, I see it as a down payment on the promise of reference in a digital age. The Global Knowledge Base is really a foundation for a new reference.”
The QuestionPoint wiki lists several Questions of Note at http://wiki.questionpoint.org/GKB-Questions-of-Note. However, what is currently posted there just gives a taste of the variety of information you can find from work other librarians have already done. These are also examples of excellent reference service.
The institutions that have contributed answers we find in the GKB include special libraries, as well as public, academic, and research libraries. Contributions have come from, to name just a few, the Alzheimer’s Association Green-Field Library (Chicago), the Smithsonian American Art Museum, InfoEyes, and several national libraries, including 22 reading rooms of the Library of Congress, the National Library of Australia, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of the Netherlands, and state libraries in Russia and Germany. Although many institutions have answered questions routed to them via the Global Reference Network, special mention should be made of Carnegie Mellon University and Texas Tech, who have answered by far the most questions from the GRN; thus, they are well represented in the GKB.
The New York Public Library, Smithsonian American Art Institute, and Enquire service (UK) imported a great many records from their preexisting Q&A databases into the GKB. Of manual submittals to the GKB, the New York Public Library continues to top the list with 769 records in 2008 alone. They are followed closely by the Bpi Bibliothèque publique d’information (Paris), which submitted 410 records last year that were activated.
Of the almost 16,000 records assigned a subject category (it is not a required field), almost 2,300 were in History (general, worldwide, and American), the single largest subject area in the GKB. The next largest category is the Social Sciences, followed by Fine Arts, then Bibliography and Library Science, and then Technology. Below is another sampler of questions that are answered in the GKB. Most responses are gold mines of web sites and other resources in the subject area.
Is it safe to drink from plastic bottles? (KBID 175718)
Patron needs a drawing/schematic of the inside of an M978 Hemtt Tank. (KBID 95744)
Where can I find movies for a blind friend? (KBID 96733)
What are the duties, regulations, etc., of a Privacy Officer in a nursing home? (KBID 13768)
What are the main U.S. laws governing science, technology, and innovation? (KBID 22977)
If you would like to become an editor of the Global Knowledge Base, please contact Paula Rumbaugh at email@example.com.