Metasearch as a service

Many libraries are dealing with an increasingly complex systems environment: the integrated library system (do we still use this term?), metasearch, resolver, e-reserves, ERM on the horizon, ILL, and maybe several flavors of digital asset management. These systems do not always easily work together and consume a lot of attention.

I believe that over the next few years we will see more of these systems delivered to libraries as services. There are already hosted or ASP solutions available for some of them. In this context I was interested to see the GetRef pilot from Edina:

GetRef is a cross-searching tool, developed at EDINA, for finding bibliographic references contained in Abstract and Indexing (A&I) services. GetRef is configured to access numerous resources, and provides access to only those resources that the user is entitled to. This is achieved via an Athens username which links users to the resources automatically; the user does not need to have knowledge of their institutional resources.

GetRef can be accessed by means of a web interface or act as a broker for library portals via a Z39.50 interface (or other appropriate protocol).[EDINA News - GetRef - now available for institutional trial]

This is a trial: it will be interesting to see whether it generates interest as a service model.

Comments: 0

Jan 20, 2005
Paul Miller

Services such as these are of great value within an institutional context such as Further or Higher Education. The interesting - and essential - next step is surely to allow 'appropriate copy'-type solutions for the citizen, whether they be student, teacher, user of the corporate library, user of their 'home' public library, or user of the public library close to their place of work (which happens to be in a different library authority to their home).

How do we take the leap to handle that kind of real-world problem?

Jan 20, 2005
Chris Awre

The institutional use of appropriate copy is based on the institution deciding what is appropriate for its users to have access to. The authority of the institution is necessary for this to be put in place. This authority is most often delegated to the library as the final arbiter, which bases its decisions on user input and consultation and on what the perceived needs of the institutions users are.

In a public arena, how can the same decisions be made? To parallel institutions, the public library makes decisions on what its users will find useful. Can a library's collection management role be used with enough authority in these days of consumer choice to address the appropriate copy dilemma?