'One-click' consumer information on state Web site

"Consumer information is just a mouse-click away on a new state Web site, Gary Locke and State Librarian Nancy Zussy launched the new Find-It! Consumer Web site, a search engine for information about consumer safety and consumer protection, during a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony last week. Water and air quality, pesticide use, and food safety are just a few topics Find-it! Consumer will help citizens explore . By visiting the site, consumers can search more than 70 state government consumer-protection sites, which consumer experts and librarians have reviewed and recommended. Find-It! Consumer also will provide consumer alerts and advice. Zussy said the site initially was funded by a $100,000 grant from the federal Institute for Museum and Library Services. Sponsor agencies now include the Office of the Governor, the Washington State Library, the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Ecology, the Department of Social and Health Services, the Liquor Control Board, the Utilities and Transportation Commission, and the North Central Education Service District. The site will, however, link to consumer information in a wide variety of state and federal government and nonprofit Web sites. More information than ever is available to help us find our way and make good decisions about our lives, Zussy said. And that's the good news. However, that's also the bad news. You can find consumer information in many different places: on the Web, in the newspaper, in books and brochures, on radio and television, and from your friends and relatives, to name only a few. Yet it's impossible to read and evaluate every piece of consumer information that's available. Find-It! Consumer works by linking key words to other consumer information sites, as does Find-It! Washington, a specialty index focusing on the electronic or Web-based publications of virtually every Washington state, county, and city government entity. There is also a pointer to catalog print publications. The new Web site also provides resources for K-12 consumer education teachers. High school teachers looking for a fresh way to make consumer affairs interesting can click on LifeSmarts, a game that develops teens' consumer and marketplace knowledge and skills in a fun way, and rewards them for this knowledge. The program complements the high school consumer education curriculum and can be used as an activity for classes, groups, clubs, and community organizations. LifeSmarts is aimed at American teens in grades 9-12. For more information, visit the Washington State Library home page at "

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