AALL Spectrum Article on Discovery Tools in Law Libraries
Also called "web scale discovery" tools, these systems claim to offer a unified search of all of a library's offerings through a single interface. They are based on a pre-harvested centralized unified index of an institution's licensed and local collections, including journal databases, library holdings, dissertations, institutional repositories, e-book subscriptions, etc. to allow fast, simultaneous searching.
The author of the AALL Spectrum article ran into some of the same problems we did at my place of work when we looked into discovery tools:
"Most concerning are the restrictive and expensive licensing policies of the largest legal information publishers [i.e. Westlaw and Lexis - my note],whose materials are by and large unrepresented in discovery layer systems because of these restrictions. What is the benefit of marketing such a tool to our students and faculty if their most vital sources of information are nowhere to be found in the system?"Here is an earlier Library Boy post on the subject: Electronic Resources and Libraries Conference - Web Scale Discovery (March 3, 2011).
You can find the full table of contents for the current December 2011 issue of the AALL Spectrum on the AALL website.