Some people say that book indexes are not needed online, because full-text searching takes their place. On the contrary, I think that a book index represents valuable brain work that should not be abandoned. If a knowledgeable human being, such as an author or professional indexer, has combed through an entire book to anticipate what the audience might want to look up, that is an irreplaceable service which remains useful to readers online.
If you use the search box in the LCRM online publishing pilot to search all of the books and other publications on the site for a term such as “NAACP,” you may notice that the books’ indexes are included in the search results. If you look in the index of any of the books in the pilot, you will see that each page number is a live link to that page, for convenient navigation.
A more sophisticated system might incorporate index terms in a thesaurus that would inform search-results relevance, seamlessly incorporating that valuable brain work in the search mechanism without requiring more clicks on the part of the user. We do not have the resources to accomplish that at this time, but an interim step might be to offer a search of book indexes only, as an advanced-search option.
Such a search option might mimic Reference Universe, a service that aggregates encyclopedia indexes.
To obtain premium access to the full text of all of the books and other content in the LCRM online publishing pilot and check out the linked indexes, please send a request to lcrmproject at gmail dot com.