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Federated Search of Today and Tomorrow Shanyun Zhang Electronic Resources Librarian, John K. Mullen Library The Catholic University of America Potomac.

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Presentation on theme: "Federated Search of Today and Tomorrow Shanyun Zhang Electronic Resources Librarian, John K. Mullen Library The Catholic University of America Potomac."— Presentation transcript:

1 Federated Search of Today and Tomorrow Shanyun Zhang Electronic Resources Librarian, John K. Mullen Library The Catholic University of America Potomac Valley Chapter of ASIST September 27, 2006

2 Outline Summary of Our Research Project Findings Todays Federated Search Possible Directions

3 Context User interest in one-stop shopping Increased awareness among librarians of the value of federated search WRLC implementation

4 Research Objectives To understand users perceptions of a federated search system To compare and contrast the perceptions of librarians and students regarding federated search To identify areas of confusion and misperceptions and explore their implications for literacy programs in federated search and for system design

5 Methodology (1) Survey instrument Experience with MetaLib Combined Search (MCS) Usage Opinions of MCS Search simulation (see sample screens) Narrative Drawing

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7 Screen A

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9 Methodology (2) Participants Librarians from WRLC libraries Students from the School of Library & Information Science MetaLib expert implementer for WRLC

10 Methodology (3) Data collection Mail survey (early Jan. 2006) Take-home survey (late Jan. 2006) Data processing & analysis RAs Descriptive statistics Content analysis of open-ended questions Analysis of components and relationships in narratives and drawings (in progress)

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12 Participants Background Total 19 Librarians Total 22 students

13 Findings: Usage

14 Findings: Assessment Useful, but complex and hard to figure out Students: 69%Librarians: 11% Not useful, and hard to figure out Students: 8%Librarians: 47% 42% of the librarians believed users made use of MCS without knowing exactly how it worked.

15 Findings: FindIt Function Only 27% of the students noticed the FindIt button

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17 Findings: Areas of Confusion (selected subcategories) LibrariansStudents Background information How MCS works and its limitations Database information 44% 26% 13% 42% 12% 21% MetaLib system operation Result display, ranking & relevance FindIt Full text retrieval 51% 21% 18% 8% 27% 15% 3% 9% Search support Search tutorial, Search modification, Technical support, search history 5%27%

18 Topics to Learn (selected subcategories) Answers from Students Background information What databases are covered by MetaLib What full text journals users have access to Federated search process & what are differences 50% 28% 9% MetaLib system operation how return search results, how determine relevance 22% Search strategies How to enter search terms; How to use search fields; How to broaden the search; How to use controlled vocabulary 13% Practice16%

19 Topics to Cover Students want to learn: Background (50%) MetaLib system operation (22%) Search strategies (13%) Practice (16%) Librarians want to teach: Background (30%) MetaLib system operation (28%) Search strategies (37%) Instruction methods (5%)

20 Todays Federated Search Students say Cool! One interface One search to full text Librarians are unhappy with its performance Database inclusion Search speed Retrieval precision Result comprehensiveness

21 Possible Directions System architectures Distributed search model (queries to multiple remote resources in real time, which suffers from multiple limitations: number of connections available, slowness of remote services, and large result sets) Centralized search model (gathering data on the universe of interest in advance and processing it into indexes that can provide instant results to searchers queries) Cooperation between giant aggregators and publishers CSA MultiSearch

22 Information Standards Z39.50 is the primary standard utilized in Metalib Difficult to sort large result sets Many vendors dont support Z39.50 NISO Metasearch Initiative NISO Metasearch XML Gateway Simplified CQL (Common Query Language) and SRU (Search & Retrieval via URL) for queries XML for responses

23 Which is better? AdvantagesDisadvantages Commercial Federated Search Systems Multiple search optionsExpensive; More maintenance staff needed Google Scholar Free; Will be benefit from the open contents Keyword search only; Cooperation with libraries needed Cooperated Aggregators and Publishers Metadata and content available; Minimum maintenance in libraries Expensive

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25 Thank You! Contact Information Shanyun Zhang Coming publication: Tang, Rong, Hsieh-Yee, Ingrid, & Zhang, Shanyun. (Accepted). User Perceptions of MetaLib Combined Search: An Investigation of How Users Make Sense of Federated Searching. Internet Reference Services Quarterly.

26 Future Readings Breeding, M Plotting a new course for metasearch. Computers in Libraries 25(2): Webster, P Metasearching in an academic environment. Online 28(2): Sadeh, T Google Scholar versus metasearch systems. HEP Librarians Webzone 12. Cervone, F What weve learned from doing usability testing on OpenURL resolvers and federated search engines. Computers in Libraries 25:


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