Last October Abe was invited to deliver a presentation at Hunan University in China for the largest conference in Asia geared to librarians and information professionals. The conference was organized by iGroup, an Asia-based distributor of printed and online materials. iGroup, per their web-site has a “staff of more than 260, [and] continue[s] to focus on the information industry, catering to the needs of librarians, students, academics, educators, medical and health workers and research scientists.”
The theme of the conference was “The Role of the Library in the Virtual and Collaborative World” with an emphasis on how libraries can collaborate to better serve their patrons. Abe, and a number of high-profile individuals from the information industry, delivered presentations.
Abe’s talk was titled “Taking the Library Back from Google.” The powerpoint slides are available here and this is the abstract of that talk.
Researchers, particularly students, are making Google their first stop for research because it is “quick and easy”. They assume that Google will find the authoritative, scholarly information that they are seeking. However, the information in Google is not always the highest quality or the most reliable content. Librarians now have the opportunity to team up with a Federated Search vendor to once again make the librarian a search authority in finding scholarly information. In this session, the audience will learn of the features and capabilities that are currently available in Federated Search. The audience will also learn how librarians can play a key collaborative role in bringing Federated Search to their patrons.
The presentation busts the “Google Myth” that if it isn’t in Google then it doesn’t exist. Abe examines the misperception that Google Scholar is the best and only tool for student research. He addresses the reasons that students like Google Scholar and also identifies very serious failings in Google Scholar’s offering. Abe goes on to make the case that federated search is what libraries need, not an incomplete mix of high and low quality search results, which is just one of a number of problems with Google Scholar. Given students’ draw to Google Scholar as a one-stop source of hopefully relevant content Abe argues that a well designed federated search solution can deliver consistently high quality results with the simple search interface that students demand.
Abe makes the all-important point that improving a library’s ROI on licensed content is the number one benefit of federated search and provides guidance on how to move from “this is a great” idea to the consideration of requirements, features, and vendor evaluation. Plus, Abe gives his view of what the three most important features are in the future of federated searching.
The presentation is definitely worth viewing as it does an excellent job of explaining how federated search can solve a number of major problems for libraries while being as neutral as a federated search vendor can be about the industry.