Last couple of answers for Sol (and a sip of MERLOT)

Posted by Chris Carmichael on February 5, 2009 in Federated Search, Search |

Well, I’ve added a few more databases into my list of options for federating. So far, all have had available connectors. In some cases, there are even multiple connectors because the same database content may be offered by multiple vendors. Thus begins my answer to Sol’s question #5 from the Federated Search Blog

Q5. What has your experience been with WebFeat re the availability of translators (connectors) to the sources you selected?

A5. (See beginning of this post +) To date, I have found a connector for every database I’ve wanted to connect and even connectors for some I hadn’t thought about connecting. There are a few that I think may give us trouble though. The connector to Lexis-Nexis Academic content could be problematic simply due to the massive amount of information within the L-N database. Theoretically, it could overwhelm the result list everytime. Colleagues at another university have had this experience leading them to disconnect Lexis-Nexis Academic from their federated search platform.

I do believe in learning from others’ experiences. However, different platforms behave differently. Going into an issue with foreknowledge of the potential outcome is easier than being surprised.

Q6. What effort has it taken for your library staff to get content providers to allow your subscription sources to be federated?

A6. Honestly, I don’t know how much effort may be involved. Right now, once a source is selected for federation and saved to the list, Webfeat contacts the content providers with a request to allow the search appliance to “reach into” their content. It usually takes a few days for a response. Some content providers are faster than others.

We have been told by Webfeat that if a week goes by and we still are not getting search results from a particular resource, we work through Webfeat first to resolve it. Then we would contact the provider directly.

I have been concerned about how our faculty might or might not use our new discovery tool when we finally launch it. After being “trained” by their respective librarians to search one database after another, will they willingly try something else? Is there something else I could add to our list of resources that they would find really useful? Here’s what I’m considering:

The federated search function of MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) is sparsely populated, but feels like it might be more in tune with the kinds of content our instructors are using inside our learning management system. (No, I haven’t looked to see if Webfeat offers a connector to this yet.) –ctc

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