Late last month, Free Pint Limited published a document, Federated Search Report and Tool Kit. The report was authored by Jill Hurst-Wahl. Jill has an extensive background in information technology and library science. Her web-site has additional biographical information beyond the following paragraph:
Jill Hurst-Wahl has worked in and around information for most of her life. Her background is in information technology and library science. She has been both a programmer/analyst and a corporate librarian. While a corporate librarian, she worked on competitive intelligence research projects and helped to build a competitive intelligence system that used digitization as one of the methods of inputting information. That was more than 15 years ago and Jill has continued to do work both in the areas of digitization and competitive intelligence.
Jill wrote a guest article in this blog: Federated search is part of collection development. Jill is a fellow blogger; her blog is Digitization 101.
I requested and received a review copy of the report and tool kit. A sample of the report is available for free. The sample includes the table of contents and the introduction. I believe that if you look at the sample of the report you’ll recognize the value of purchasing the entire report.
As I read through the report I noted eight things I particularly liked about it. Here’s my list, in no particular order:
- Well written. Jill is a very gifted communicator. The report is extremely clearly written.
- Highly educational. Jill provides a concise summary of what federated search is, how it works, how it’s used in corporate and in academic library environments, and why libraries may seek federated search solutions. Jill also discusses common features, benefits, and shortcomings.
- Helpful stories, tips and sidebar comments. I found the “margin notes” to be very effective at highlighting important points and at getting readers to ask themselves important questions. I appreciate how Jill helps her readers take breaks from the densely packed material by providing this supporting content. Illustrations, diagrams, lists, and tables also contribute to the “usability” of the report.
- Interesting case studies. The report includes a number of case studies; their use really helps the material come to life. Plus, inclusion of case studies promotes discussion and interaction among those investigating federated search.
- Knows her audience. Jill clearly understands the library organizational chart very well. In particular, Jill understands how decisions are made in libraries and how to communicate effectively with the decision makers. She understands the differences in the roles of the senior leaders, the library/resource center managers, the information staff and the end users, and provides guidance on how to engage individuals in these different roles and on how they can use the report.
- Great step by step process. The report systematically walks stakeholders through the decision making processes, from requirements to purchase criteria, to creating the evaluation and implementation team, to evaluating and selecting and care and feeding of the solution.
- Very powerful activities to make the process real and to help to create clarity. The Federated Search Tool Kit was my favorite part of the report. Completing the ten activities will no doubt leave key staff with tremendous clarity regarding the major issues of the procurement process. Here are the activities:
1. Needs Assessment
2. Create a Story About Using Federated Search
3. Staff Requirements Assessment
4. Purchase Criteria Definition
5. The Insource/Outsource Dilemma
6. Assembling Your Team
7. Product and Company Overviews
8. Product Trials
9. Analysis and Product Selection
10. Review and Evaluation
- Extremely concise. Perhaps, best of all, Jill accomplishes a tremendous amount in just 44 pages; there’s no fluff in this excellent report.
Yes, I highly recommend the report. The Federated Search Report and Tool Kit stands head and shoulders above most other federated search procurement documents – of which there are so few.
If you found this article to be of interest you may enjoy my Federated Search Roadmap to a Solution article series. And, you may find my 100 questions to ask federated search vendors article and document to be of value as well.