The U.S. Department of Education has updated the design of its Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM) web site, which provides K-12 educators with quick access to the substantial, but uncatalogued, collections of educational materials found on more than 140 federal, state, university, nonprofit, and commercial internet sites.

GEM began in 1996 when the National Library of Education (NLE) Advisory Task Force directed the NLE to find ways to apply library and information science skills to help educators find lesson plans and teacher guides on the internet. The site can be found at http://www.thegateway.org.

Free online searches can be done in any of three formats: keyword, subject, or simple search. Searches will yield a series of sites that meet requested criteria, and each site has been reviewed by GEM staff members. “Think of the GEM record like a card in a card catalog at the library,” the site says. “It gives a short description of the resource, including author, title, and location.”

Educators are encouraged to recommend additional web sites for cataloging by GEM, including their own online lesson plans. Instructions for submitting web sites for review are found on the GEM site.