Library Hi Tech’s first issue of 2009 includes a paper that touches on a number of issues related to the implementation of federated search in libraries. The paper is “One Box to Search Them All: Implementing Federated Search at an Academic Library.” The authors are Ian Gibson, Lisa Goddard, and Shannon Gordon. The authors are library professionals at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Gibson is a Science Research Liaison Librarian, Goddard is the Division Head for Systems, and Gordon is a Reference and Instruction Librarian. The article is available to Emerald Insight subscribers in pre-print form and free to the public from Ian Gibson’s web-site.
Please note that the article is a pre-print version. This means that this is not a final version of the paper and that the authors may revise it.
In this article I give my impressions of the paper.
Here is the purpose of the paper, from its abstract:
In May, 2008, the Ad Hoc Committee on Federated Search was formed to prepare a preliminary report on federated searching for a special meeting of Librarians Academic Council at Memorial University Libraries. The primary purpose was to discuss current implementation of federated searching at this institution, explore what other institutions have done, examine federated search technologies, and offer recommendations for the future of this resource.
“One Box to Search Them All” is 18 pages long. I found the paper to make some interesting and important points so overall, I give it a thumbs up. The paper, however, is subtitled “Implementing Federated Search at an Academic Library.” My one complaint about the paper is that there wasn’t enough information about Memorial University’s implementation of SirsiDynix’s SingleSearch product. Fewer than three pages were devoted to the subject.
Before I dive into my review, though, let me tell you what the paper covers.
- Abstract: Also available at Emerald Insight.
- Introduction: Too brief, in my opinion.
- Part A: Implementation at Memorial. Focuses on usability and on how to improve it. Also includes a discussion of what service providers (library staff) think of the service.
- Part B: What Others Have Done. Surveys what the literature has to say about what other institutions have done to select and implement a product, feedback from librarians and users, and a brief reference to examples of federated search systems.
- Part C: The Technology. Discusses not only federated search but also harvesting/indexing approaches. Also summarizes vendor offerings and their strengths.
- Conclusion. Memorial decided to commit to the following and to reevaluate their use of SirsiDynix Single Search:
1. More actively develop our federated search implementation by redeveloping our web presence to support “federated searching in context”.
2. Continue to assess the current federated search marketplace with an eye to selecting a next generation federated search tool that includes effective de-duping, sorting, relevancy ranking, clustering and faceting of search results.
3. Reevaluate our current consortial arrangements going forward.
4. Commit to involving a broad range of people in the selection, testing and implementation of any new products.
- References. Two and a half pages of biobligraphic information. Many of the references were new to me but I’m not a library science researcher.
I’ll publish the second (and final) part of my review on Monday.
Update 2/20/09: See the authors’ responses to my comments.
Tags: federated search