Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Power-searching the “3-click world…”

As I research resources about federated searching, I continue to find useful articles and presentation. One presentation is Power-searching the "3-click world...?": An evaluation of Federated Search Engines and Link Resolvers for Academic Libraries (University of Pretoria, September 8, 2005.). [The presentation must be viewed using Internet Explorer.]

According to the working group at the University of Pretoria, the advantages of federated search are:
  • Single one-stop searching point for access to a hybrid library's diverse e-collections & catalogues
  • Simple & easy to use & access
  • Save time
  • Independent researchers /users --– discover! Less training needed
  • Immediate access to full text with link resolver
  • Merged result lists
While they found the limitations to be:
  • Quality of searching
  • Database licensing issues
  • Response rate
  • Limit of hits per database
  • Results list orders
  • Increased traffic -- every search run against every database
Some may feel that the limitations are too limiting, but what if federated search allows users to search more content (including databases that they might not naturally search) and discover materials that they would not have discovered otherwise? Are then limitations then worth it? That decision seems to depend on the institution and what it is trying to accomplish. Some try federated search then given up. Others decide to pour money into an option in order to make it do what they really want. Some even are happy with what comes "out of the box." As I continue to read, I'll be interested in seeing how people come to those decisions.

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