Artemis: beyond hunting and gathering

In a recent post, I wrote about the library’s rich collection of digital resources and our exciting new partnership with Gale, one of the leading publishers of research collections in the humanities. Now, as promised, is more information about Artemis, a new product from Gale.

Over the past few years, many database vendors, including Ebsco and ProQuest, have created new platforms that search multiple databases at once. These have been very popular with students and faculty. Now Gale has launched Artemis, a new platform for Gale’s digital humanities collections. In addition to serving as a cross-database search engine, Artemis also offers a set of tools for analyzing documents. We expect Artemis to be very popular!

Why “Artemis”? Gale named this new platform after the Greek goddess of the hunt and the moon. The association between a “hunt” and a database search is obvious, but the moon? Artemis was also called Phosphoros, “light-bringer,” which is apt for a tool that illuminates and helps researchers find and analyze sources.*

What makes Artemis special, and what sets it apart from other cross-database search tools, is that it is specifically designed for digital archives of primary sources. Standard article and book databases tend to contain only a handful of document and publication types. Primary source collections, on the other hand, are more complex, with a wider variety of document and publication types; content can include everything from manuscripts, literary works, diaries, letters, government documents, newspapers, magazines, books, maps, paintings, photographs, newsreels, audio recordings, and much more. With such variety, metadata and indexing are critical, and Gale is taking the time to normalize indexing across its digital collections, something that other publishers have not always done. Robust metadata and quality indexing help the researcher hone in on content, identify related documents, and uncover new meanings and linkages among sources, especially when those sources are pulled from different databases. In addition, digital archives require more sophisticated search algorithms to assist the researcher, and indexing plays a part in how these algorithms function. Indexing, like relevancy ranking, is an art in large collections of primary source materials.

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Result of Term Clusters search for “Smallpox”

Artemis’s role as “light-bringer” also comes into play with the two analysis tools that are built into the product. The first, “Term clusters,” presents you with a graphic visualization of words associated with your search terms; these words and phrases are drawn from the first 100 words in the first 100 search results (further evidence of the value of good relevancy ranking and indexing). The concentric wheels of the Term Clusters enable you to identify additional search terms and can be used to narrow or broaden a search. They could be great starting points for students trying to refine a topic.

The second tool shows Term Frequency. Based on the collections searched in Artemis, this tool shows you how many documents contain your search terms; it is broken down by year. You can also view the “popularity” of your terms; this option shows you the percentage of total documents, by year, that contain your search terms. For both options, you can limit your search by years, content types, and databases. (For more information, see Gale’s online tutorial on Using Term Frequency and Term Clusters.)

Obviously, there is a lot of time and work involved in digitizing, coding, and indexing documents and then creating the search and analysis tools. Artemis is a work in progress. At this time, there are two versions of Artemis: Artemis: Primary Sources and Artemis: Literary Sources. Over the next few years, Gale will integrate these two and migrate most of its digital collections to Artemis. Right now, Artemis: Primary Sources includes Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) and Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO). Later this year, The Making of Modern Law, The Making of the Modern World, and the Sabin Americana collections will be added to Artemis. Davidson is fortunate to have all of Gale’s digital collections, so students and faculty will really reap the benefits of having one platform to search all of this great content.

Gale is also working with other publishers and vendors in an effort to make their content discoverable on Artemis too. Records from ProQuest’s Early English Books Online (EEBO) now appear alongside search results from ECCO and NCCO in Artemis; EEBO content is listed in the “Outside Collections” category. This means that you can search for publications across a span of four hundred years! I applaud Gale for partnering with ProQuest and encourage ProQuest and other publishers and vendors to make more of their digital archives discoverable through Artemis. Imagine being able to search all of Gale’s newspaper collections along with the content from ProQuest’s Historical Newspapers and Readex’s America’s Historical Newspapers; we hope that Gale, ProQuest, and Readex can work together to make this happen!

If you haven’t had a chance to try Artemis yet, do so! I’d be eager to hear your comments; please let me know what you think of it.

Would you like to learn more about Artemis? Gale has created some great short, guided tutorials.

We are also preparing a quick guide to using Artemis (coming soon!) and plan to hold another training session led by Gale staff. Contact Susanna Boylston if you are interested in attending a training session.


* Artemis is also a simple, easy-to-remember name. While Gale has used descriptive titles for most of its digital collections, the titles can be long and cumbersome. Many users have attempted to use acronyms for the collections, but the acronyms are much easier to use than to pronounce. Until all of the collections are available on Artemis, we are providing this handy pronunciation guide for some of the more popular collections.

About Susanna Boylston

Collection Development Librarian[Read More...]