From Metasearching to Discovery: The University of Florida Experience

From Metasearching to Discovery: The University of Florida Experience

LeiLani Freund (University of Florida, USA), Christian Poehlmann (University at Albany, State University of New York, USA) and Colleen Seale (University of Florida, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1821-3.ch002
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Many academic libraries implemented a metasearch or federated search platform as a way to expand the amount of relevant information available to library users. While the metasearch concept seemed to hold great promise, it failed to live up to expectations and users failed to embrace the technology. Nevertheless, the single search box proved to be popular with search engine users, and metasearch would prove to be a forerunner to more evolved discovery solutions. In this chapter, the authors describe experiences with a metasearch product, usability testing, and how that experience shaped decision-making for the chosen discovery solution platform. The available discovery services are explored, and the process for selection at the University of Florida Libraries is described along with the plans for future evaluation of the implemented service.
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Definition, History, And Overview Of Metasearching

A metasearch (now often used interchangeably with parallel search, federated search, broadcast search, cross-database search or search portal) is a search simultaneously conducted across several bibliographic and full-text databases, platforms, vendors, sources and protocols using a single search interface. The search results may be returned in various ways (listed by database or in a merged list; sorted by relevancy, date, or other attributes; de-duplicated or not) but always in a consistent format.

How did metasearching evolve? As Judy Luther stated in a Library Journal article published in 2003, “Metasearch isn’t a new concept. Dialog in the 1970s and subsequently SilverPlatter executed a single search simultaneously across multiple bibliographic databases” (Luther, 2003, p. 37). The mid to late 1990s saw not only the introduction of Google (named search engine of choice in the Top 100 Web Sites for 1998 by PC Magazine), but also Web metacrawlers or metasearch engines such as Dogpile, WebCrawler and Metacrawler that could execute a single search query across multiple search engines to retrieve search results.

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