Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Are you using federated search software with your digital repositories?

In the last year, I've become more interested in federated search software, partial due to work that I am doing and partially due to seeing changes in the technology that might actually make federate search do what we want! The promise of federated search is awesome, but the reality can be disappointing.
  • Will it provide a reasonable decent search across databases?
  • Can it do more than just provide the lowest common denominator of search?
  • What do you sacrifice with federate search and what do you gain?
  • Will users see it as a plus (and something to continue to use) or will they be frustrated by it?
At the SLA conference, I saw a product from a well-known company and liked what I saw in the demo. Unfortunately, that company hasn't been forthcoming in providing more information about the product. (No, I'm not looking for trade secrets, just basically the same information given during the demo, but in writing.) I must admit, having a company take this long during the sales circle to provide information makes me uneasy. Is this an indication of their customer support?

As I wait for more information from that company (who shall for the time-being remain nameless), I'm seeking information on other software. I've posted to a couple discussion lists about federated search software being used to search across multiple digitization projects and have received a couple replies. One person mentioned SingleSearch from Sirsi and another mentioned Auto-Graphics AGent and still another mentioned MetaLib. From the responses, it sounds like one must fully test software against your content in order to fully understand how it performs. Obviously, the sales pitches can truly paint rosy pictures when that may not be true in your case.

So...are you using federated search software to search across multiple digitization projects/programs? If yes, what are you using? How is performing for you? Please leave a comment here or send a message to hurst {at} hurstassociates {dot} com

Thanks! Yes, I'll be reporting on what I learn, as I learn it.

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