Archive for the "papers" Category


Tony Russell-Rose at the Information Interaction Blog co-authored a paper about the changing face of search. He provides the article in this blog post.

Here’s the article’s list of major changes they see already happening or happening in the future:

  1. Freshness of content. Not just recent but fresh AND authoritative.

  2. Context in search and personalization. Already in use by major search engines, e.g. use of information from previous searches and use of user’s location. Implicit use of what users do with search results to infer their interests.

  3. Natural language processing. Especially driven by social media and user-generated content.

  4. Disruptive effect of search engines beyond the big three.

  5. Consolidation in the enterprise search marketplace plus new companies entering the space catalyzed in large part by the maturing of Solr as a viable alternative to commercial search engines.

  6. A growing focus on the user experience. Ten blue links are no longer enough. Search needs to support “exploratory search tasks, such as comparison, aggregation, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and so on.”

  7. Accessibility support beyond the blind community. “For dyslexic people there is a need to understand the searching behaviour of such users, and build personalised interfaces which react to the type of dyslexia and learn from their interaction with the user interface.” Also support for severely physically disabled people.

  8. The digital divide. Getting information to people in countries with oppressive governments. Supporting the use of mobile devices for information exchange.

And, the paper’s conclusion:

Finally, when most people talk about search, they typically envisage a web page with a search box and a results list. But search is increasingly becoming a ubiquitous part of our daily lives, helping us make sense of the world around us. Search is the means by which we are able to cope with our overflowing email inboxes, to generate insights from masses of corporate data, and to discover new restaurants in an unfamiliar city armed only with a smartphone and an Internet connection. Search will be everywhere, but invisible, contextualised, and personalised.


Reference Services Review recently published an article: Student perceptions of federated searching vs single database searching. The article is authored by Annie Armstrong of the Reference Department at Richard J. Daley Library, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC.) The 13 page article is available as an electronic download for $20USD plus $3 handling at the article link above. I purchased a copy for review.

The article aims to see how students feel about federated search vs. searching a single source. What do they think of the relevance of results from each? How easy do they find the two to use? A study was performed in which students were asked to answer qualitative and quantitative questions about the two search tools as used in a research assignment on a topic of their choosing. The article provides the expected background material, a review of the literature, and methodology. A bulk of the paper discusses the study’s results.

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The SLA 2009 Annual Conference is fast approaching. Blog sponsor Deep Web Technologies will have a booth at the conference. If you’re going to be attending they’d welcome your visit. Abe Lederman, founder and President of Deep Web Technologies, will be a presenter. His talk and contributed paper are titled “Science Research: Journey to Ten Thousand Sources.” The talk will be on Monday (June 15) from 3:30 to 5:00 as part of the “Adapt, Leverage and Communicate (Part I)” contributed paper session.

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[ Editor's note: In this guest article, Carl Grant adds his contribution to the discussion I started in Beyond Federated Search? and continued in Beyond federated search? The conversation continues. Be sure to read those two articles before reading Carl's response. Also, check out the comments on the two articles.

Carl Grant is President of Ex Libris North America. With more than a quarter century of experience in the library-automation industry, I'm grateful for his periodic and very popular contributions to this blog. ]

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[ This is a continuation (and the final piece) of the review I started here. ]

Rather than discuss the paper section by section I’ll highlight some of the key points of the paper.

  1. Memorial’s current implementation of SirsiDynix Single Search was purchased through a consortial agreement without broad in-house consultation.” I wonder how many implementations get purchased without buyin from the major stakeholders. This is not in any way a dig against SirsiDynix. Given the frequent tension between librarians and users, skipping the buyin phase is a recipe for trouble.

  2. Read the rest of this entry »


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.

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Back in December ACRLog, the blog for ACRL, ran a post titled Pay Some Attention To The Research. The blog post refers to two research articles. The first article referenced is titled “Portals for Undergraduate Subject Searching: Are They Worth It?” While that article is certainly worthy of attention, what hooked me about this blog post was the reference to and discussion of the second article, “Undergraduate Use of Federated Searching: A Survey of Preferences and Perceptions of Value-Added Functionality.” This article, by Belliston, et al, was published in the November 2007 issue of “College & Research Libraries.” While the full-text is only available from ALA to ACRL members, through the wonders of Google one can find a free copy of the article at Brigham Young University, where the research for this article was conducted.

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A couple of months ago I gave a brief presentation at the Enterprise Search Summit West in San Jose (actually, officially I was speaking at the KMWorld & Intranets show) making the claim that Federated Search is the technology that can unify disparate content within a company.

The talk was titled “Federated Search: True Enterprise Search.” Here is the abstract from that talk:

Enterprise Search Software as it is known today, whether from Autonomy, Endeca, FAST or others, cannot provide access to all the information of value at any reasonably sized organization with a single search. Organizational information-content exists in numerous silos accessible through a myriad of individual, incompatible indices-engines. Technical, cost and bureaucratic reasons prevent unifying all these various enterprise silos under one index.

State-of-the-art Federated Search software provides actual enterprise (-wide) single point of search-access to most, if not all, of the information repositories of value to an enterprise, including those beyond the firewall.

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Outsell Inc. is a research and advisory firm. They cover a number of information industry segments, including search, aggregation and syndication. In August they produced a report related to federated search:

Information Management Best Practices: The Future of Federated Search. August 16, 2007. The abstract begins:

Federated search goes beyond searching the open web a la Google to include subscription-based content in a variety of databases. This report examines what federated search is and how it has evolved, and makes recommendations for information managers who want to offer their users more valuable search tools.

I have not read the report so I have no opinion about it. There is, however, a post on August 20 titled Analysis of federated search from the Family Man Librarian blog with impressions of the report from long-time librarian Steve Oberg. While Oberg’s post is definitely worth reading he does leave us hanging with this comment:

The report’s authors argue that federated search vendors haven’t much to fear from Google, and they go on to articulate why this is the case. They see a good future for federated search.

I’m interested to know the specifics of the analysis leading to this statement so I might just need to get a copy of this report for myself.


Research and Markets, a large producer of market research reports, has for sale a report: Academic Library Website Benchmarks. Per the report’s description “[t]he report presents data from 82 North American college libraries about their library website policies and development plans.”

Of particular interest is the second to last paragraph in the description:

Just over a third of the sample responded that they were currently offering federated search capabilities from the website, so that a broad range of library databases could be searched at once. Three out of four research universities had federated search capabilities, compared to just 53.33% of PhD-level granting institutions, 29.27% of 4-year/MA granting institutions, and just 8.33% of community colleges. The mean number of subject-specific search windows offered through federated searches was 19.72.

Clearly there is tremendous opportunity to sell federated search into the higher education market if, overall, only a third of the sample in the study reported offering federated search. Of deeper interest is the low use of federated search in 4-year/MA granting institutions (29%) and even lower level of adoption at community colleges (8%).

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