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Searchability at the Smithsonian website

The January 7 issue of Federal Computer Week  had an article by Ari Schwartz  (deputy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology)  that summarized the findings of the  "Hiding in Plain Sight"  report that was blogged about here on FGI in December. In the article Mr. Schwartz mentions that they found that the Smithsonian Institution (among other agencies) website resources had information obscured "including many online content collections in the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System".

The Smithsonian has responded in a letter to the editor  of Federal of Computer Week:  "All of the databases in the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS) are site-mapped according to the international standard … SIRIS has 1,679,277 records available via the sitemaps to crawlers such as Googlebot. According to Google, 1,567,170 records from SIRIS, or 93 percent, are included in the Google index. We started working on the sitemaps in February 2007 and worked directly with Google engineers in June to enhance the accessibility and ranking of our records. We understand that the public expects to find all Smithsonian information in one system, but as stated on our home page, SIRIS contains only information from the Smithsonian’s libraries, archives and the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s research databases. The museum collections information is available through other systems described on the Smithsonian’s home page. However, efforts are under way to make one-stop searching available to the public in the future.   We continue to work hard to raise the visibility of our data to the public through multiple channels, including search engines." 

Thanks for the clarification, Smithsonian and we’re glad to hear you are responsive to the public.

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