Archive for February, 2010


Check out this article at the Concordia University Library News Blog: Goodbye, BearHunt. BearHunt is (soon to be ‘was’) their federated search system. They didn’t like it and they’re not shy about telling you how much they didn’t like it. I’ve never seen so many negative comments about a federated search solution. I counted ten complaints. I’ve broken them out in my reproduction of Concordia’s article here:

Goodbye, BearHunt

QuickSearch via BearHunt will no longer be available beginning March 1st. There are a number of reasons that the library chose to discontinue this federated search service. Most important, as everyone is tightening their belts,

BearHunt came at a substantial cost while offering no new content.

Also important,

usage was low compared to cost.

When it first became available, we were excited to try a federated search, but along with other CLIC libraries and the rest of the library world,

we’ve realized that the technology needed to support the idea isn’t quite there yet.

The relevancy rankings don’t seem to work correctly or consistently,

links were frequently broken,

searches executed slowly, and

the interface left a lot to be desired.

We also felt

there was a possibility that it was misleading searchers to think they were searching ‘everything’, while in fact there are a number of both purchased and freely available resources that aren’t included in a BearHunt search.


the search is not complete in that it stops at a predetermined time interval instead of continuing until all searches have had a chance to complete.

In the end,

BearHunt and federated search as it now exists seems at odds with our mission to teach academic research skills tailored to specific situations and inquiries, using the full breadth of our resources.

We will look forward to new federated search products with anticipation, especially if they meet our criteria of completeness and have added-value in their presentation.

Read the rest of this entry »


[ Editor's note: Charles Knight's claim to fame is that, in the three years that he was editor for AltSearchEngines, Charles posted on some 4,000 alternative search engines. Wow! Charles is now search editor for TheNextWeb. Charles and I had a number of conversations over the past couple of years regarding federated search and alternative search engines. Charles kindly republished some of my Federated Search Blog postings and I even wrote a primer on federated search for Charles' readers.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Charles about the alternative search world. ]

  1. What inspired you to start AltSearchEngines three years ago?

    I actually started out doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It’s fairly straightforward, you study Google’s practices and then apply them to a client’s website, and then another, and then another.

    Along the way I discovered that Google, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL and were not the only search engines. I stumbled upon ChaCha, and then Quintura, then KartOO and very quickly I was hooked. The beauty and diversity of each alternative (alternative to Google / the Big 3) search engine just made me want to find more of them. I have always been a collector at heart.

    Read the rest of this entry »


David Walker received third place in the Federated Search Blog contest. David, library web services manager at California State University, produced a video titled “Using Metasearch to create a journal table of contents alerting service.” The video describes the work his library is doing to connect researchers to journal articles. The challenge is that while many publishers have alerting services to notify subscribers of new content, procedures for accessing the services vary greatly between publishers. Additionally, these publisher-provided services typically provide links to content that a researcher may not have permission to access due to authentication and location issues. David explains how combining a number of existing technologies overcomes these hurdles.

Here’s a link to David’s video.


Carl Grant indirectly led me to a presentation by Jane Burke, Senior VP at ProQuest, at the Charleston Conference. Adam at the K-State Libraries Blog provided a nice summary of Burke’s talk:

Burke presented on web scale searching solutions for libraries. The presentation was founded on some firsthand research by Serials Solutions into the research habits of students. This research basically showed that library pages were essentially impenetrable and unusable with their siloed databases and indexes, lingo, and high learning curve for users. The web scale solutions Burke proposed generally include full content indexing of library holdings (catalog, aggregated content, hosted content, IR, etcetera) and searching with a single box interface ala Google. Watch for these solutions which are hitting the market.

Here are two telling quotes from a recent research study cited in the presentation:

“It is also clear from teacher and student responses in the study that the library is seen as an intimidating and inconvenient place, especially and interestingly in its primary purpose - supporting student research and often assisting students in the identification, location, and evaluation of sources.”


“We also concede it is understandable that students are drawn to using search engines on the Internet to conduct academic research. These engines are easy to use, available to anyone with an Internet connection, and quick and bountiful in their returns.”

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If you’ve got a half hour to spare, maybe in your car via iTunes, then you might enjoy this blogtalkradio interview at Friday Traffic Report: Exploring the Deep Web.

Friday Traffic Report host Jack Humphrey interviewed Bill Wardell about the deep Web. Wardell’s site, The CyberHood Watch Blog, aims to keep families and especially children safe on the Web.

While I know quite a bit about the deep Web, I enjoyed the conversational style within which a basic introduction was provided. I recommend this interview to those of you new to the concept of the deep Web and to new LIS students.


[ Editor's note: Charles Knight received honorable mention in the second annual Federated Search Blog contest. In recognition of this honor, the Blog is publishing his essay and contest sponsor Deep Web Technologies is awarding Charles a $100 prize.

Charles Knight is a blogger and leading authority on alternative search engines. Recently the editor of AltSearchEngines, he now blogs about "All things Search" for TheNextWeb at He lives in Charlottesville, VA. ]

How Federated Search can Make You RICH! by Charles Knight

Unlike all of the other entries to this contest, this is the ONLY one that will MAKE YOU RICH.

Yes, you heard me right, this is a COMMERCIAL application of Federated Search technology.

Feel free to PATENT, BUILD, and SELL this product and then WATCH THE MONEY ROLL IN!

The FIRST STEP is to print out and tape in front of you this image of a beautiful Gemstone Globe.

Read the rest of this entry »


I want to thank everyone who submitted an entry for the Federated Search Blog contest. I also want to thank the judges who read each of the entries and assigned them scores. Prizes will be awarded to the people whose entries earned the three highest scores from the judges. I have contacted the winners so you know who you are! As soon as I get the OK from the Computers In Libraries Conference and Magazine managers I will announce the winners. I don’t want to steal their thunder since CIL Magazine will be publishing the winning essay in its entirety and CIL Conference will be having the first place winner on their panel.

Abe Lederman
Todd Miller
Helen Mitchell
Richard Tong
Walt Warnick
Our distinguished judges