While genealogical information comes in many different formats and derivations, at the end of the day, researchers simply want to keep expanding their trees with the most accurate information available. This is an extreme challenge at a time when there are more people publishing information than ever. The mission of Live Roots is to extend beyond the basic process of directing visitors to available resources, and attempt to resolve the origins of the information contained therein.
So, is Live Roots a search engine? Is it a specialized link directory? Yes, and No. While this site may have incorporated functionality of a mainstream search engine and/or specialized link directory, the concept behind Live Roots was to transcend some of the inherit limitations of these existing resources.
Search engines, while phenomenal tools and essential to any research project, face some significant challenges. First, they only provide results for web sites (and web pages) they are informed exist -- either directly or from a link on another site. So, they may be able to sift through billions of pages, there are many they never capture. Many of the individual databases of certain repositories (and books of publishers) remain of the typical search engine radar. Live Roots has partnered with these organizations to include their complete catalogues in our search results. In addition, smaller publishers (some of whom don't even have a web presence) have shared their catalogues for inclusion.
Second, search engines programmatically rank results based on the words included within the bounds of each HTML page. For many research queries this provides excellent results, but not necessarily structured in a genealogical friendly manner (and why should they, they weren't designed for genealogists). Live Roots considers additional attributes for each resource and sorts results giving priority to those items that are most readily accessible and highlighting items which represent original documents.
Specialized link directories, also a genealogical staple for many years, are often subject to the (usually unintentional) efforts of a multitude of webmasters of varying experience. In addition to Live Roots spider that continually verifies that resources remain accessible, the Live Roots team will goes beyond basic site reviews and pursue the source details behind transcribed information posted on each site.
By developing itself as a resource focused on the information that genealogists' desire, Live Roots hopes to improve the experience researchers have in several ways. First, by emphasizing original sources, researchers will be able to more clearly see where duplication exists among sites (especially sites that charge fees for access). Second, by focusing on the accessibility of the resources (i.e. online versus offline, free versus paid), researchers will be able to work more efficiently. And lastly, by bridging the gap between online researchers and offline resources, Live Roots will make more information accessible than ever before.