Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Implementing a Federated Search Product

The Nov. 2008 issue of the AALL Spectrum has an article entitled The Wise Researcher: One library’s experience implementing a federated search product.

The article, by Yumin Jiang and Georgia Briscoe of the University of Colorado, describes how the William A. Wise Law Library at that institution went about choosing a product that allows for searching across multiple specialty databases.

After comparing products on the market for things such as databases included, installation and maintenance, price, search options, and result sorting and display capabilities, the Wise Library opted for 360 Search, a product of Serials Solutions.

The authors caution readers that federated searching can present some drawbacks.

For example, the big commercial providers like Westlaw and Lexis do not allow federated search tools into their databases and some providers have not yet developed the code to allow the federated search tools to connect to them.

As well, the increased convenience may come at a cost: many of the advanced search features and limit options offered by individual databases are not available in federated searching. It has to simplify and "dumb things down" a little in order to grab material from different sources and aggregate the results.

But overall, the experience at Wise Library appears to have been positive.

In a sidebar, the authors offer a helpful summary of the 7 steps for implementing federated searching in your library:
  • Review the major federated search products available
  • Decide which databases to include in the search
  • Add descriptions and subject captions for each electronic
    resource included in the federated search
  • Help staff and users learn to use the federated search
  • Show off your new federated search whenever possible
  • Listen to the feedback
  • Stay vigilant
Here at the Supreme Court of Canada Library, we have installed SingleSearch, a federated search product provided by SirsiDynix.

We always present it as a preliminary discovery tool or first step to see which library catalogues, indexes and databases may contain promising material. We then recommend a deeper, or more complex, search in the more interesting looking individual databases.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:03 pm


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