Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Federated Searching and OpenURL

H-4 Federated Searching and OpenURL
Tuesday, July 19

Eloise Vondruska (Coordinator & Moderator – Northwestern University School of Law)
H. Frank Cervone (Speaker – Northwestern University Library)

Not surprisingly, studies consistently show that patrons want to use one search interface and connect directly to full text material. Driven in part by the success (i.e., ease of use) of commercial sources and the increasingly multidisciplinary nature of research, there is a strong movement to redesign library OPACS and web pages to accommodate this. Federated searching allows patrons to search multiple databases (e.g., a library’s OPAC and selected research databases) from one query.

This program discussed how federated searching works, some current applications in libraries, and how to implement a federated search service in one’s library. Additionally, the OpenURL standard and other linking initiatives that enable federated searching were discussed.

In discussing how patrons search databases, speaker Frank Cerone noted variations in searching methods between faculty and students. Despite differences, though, both groups used simple keyword searches for most of their research. With 85% of people using metasearch engines, the importance of well-designed federated search tools is apparent.

Problematic areas for federated searching, such as indexing inconsistencies across databases, and various implementation issues (licensing, customization) were addressed at length.

If you can, get a copy of Frank’s hand-outs; slides illustrating the process from sending a query (multiple database search, collection & collation of info, listing of results) to models of how OpenURLs work are worth the proverbial thousand words.

--Deborah Dennison

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