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HighBeam Stocks Virtual Library

HighBeam Research has moved beyond the realm of search and into that of professor, librarian, scientist, Jeopardy champ and just about anyone else who knows a lot of stuff.

Looking to fill the gap between Google and Lexis-Nexis, HighBeam now extracts information from the Columbia Encyclopedia, as well as two dozen other publications like specialized encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, a thesaurus and others.

Users can search reference materials individually, or as part of a wider search of Web sites, journals and newspapers and other sources.

The service's tools allow users to save articles in online folders, e-mail them to others and import them directly into Microsoft Office applications.

"This following up on our commitment to add to our existing service," Jani Spede, a HighBeam spokeswoman, told internetnews.com.

The move comes shortly after the company added an option for searchers to find biographical and contact information on 20 million corporate executives and managers. Additional announcements about additions to the company's database are expected shortly.

HighBeam was founded by Patrick Spain, who formerly started the business information site Hoover's (which was eventually sold to Dun & Bradstreet for $119 million last year).

In 2002, along with a small group of individual investors, he began gathering assets for this venture, scooping up eLibrary and Encyclopedia.com from Tucows Inc. The group, operating under the name Alacritude, then bought the Researchville.com domain.

And finally, developers put the finishing touches on a new user interface and technology platform that tied together all the company's assets into a single "research engine."

The company and service officially launched January 26. Since then, it has notched 600,000 members for the free service and 40,000 paid subscribers. Paid memberships, which grant access to HighBeam's entire catalog, sell for about $20 per month.