Falling Down the Portal: Adventures in Federated Metasearch Technology

Katherine Dabbour and Lynn Lampert from California State University-Northridge presented to a large audience. The speakers began by noting that much as Alice stumbled into the rabbit hole, not caring which way she went, students stumble into research—not caring how they find useful sources for their research, as long as they find them.

The NISO Metasearch Initiative was discussed as an important factor in motivating metasearch service providers to offer more effective services and to deliver services that distinguish their services from free web services like Google.

Implementation considerations
• Training of librarians
• Deciding what you want to display on the results pages
• Creation of categories
• Inventory of databases
• Customization of the out-of-the-box services
• Marketing
• User instruction
• Assessment of what’s working and what isn’t

They conducted a user survey before implementing metasearch to determine what their expectations were (importance of databases, expectations of finding useful resources). They also conducted a survey of other libraries/librarians offering metasearch to learn more about their experiences.