Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Thinking about federated search again (still!)

I've been submerged in federated searching "articles" for a few hours today and compiling information (and thoughts). There is much that has been written on federated search, but very little of it seems to talk about using federated search software to search across digitization programs. We might think "oh, of course it can do that" but I know that one vendor seemed a bit iffy on whether theirs would work with CONTENTdm and some of the other digital asset management systems.

Below is the beginnings of a bibliography I'm compiling on federated search. These are pieces that I think are relevant to what I'm working on and the list will likely get longer as my research continues.

I want to point out that the Library of Congress Portal Applications Issues Group has created a list of federated search portal products and vendors. Unfortunately, the list is two years old, so it is a snapshot in time. Still a good starting place since there are likely few lists like it.

When you talk to people about federated search, a few names always rise to the surface, yet -- looking at the LOC list -- there are many products that have a federated search component to them including products built into integrated library systems (ILS). So when you think about implementing a federated search option for searching across digitization programs, be sure to talk to the companies that are supplying those systems to you and your collaborators. They may have have the functionality that you need or be willing to work with you to develop those capabilities.

By the way, I find it interesting to see what companies say about their federated search capabilities. Some like Polaris Library System describe functionality that I would describe as being federated search, but they don't use those words. We might shy away from the term "federated search" because it seems too technical or unfamiliar, yet those of us who are researching federated search products look for those words (and then the other details to back it up). So please don't shy away from the "federated search" phrase!

Short Bibliography:

An off-topic thought: When we think of companies that provide integrated library systems, we often think immediate of behemoth companies like SirsiDynix, yet there are non-behemoths like Polaris we should be paying attention to. Cast a broad net and look to see who will provide the functionality and support that you need. Don't make assumptions!

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