Friday, August 04, 2006

Solution for clients of the University of Pretoria

Report on evaluation:
Federated search engines and link resolvers : offering clients an alternative route to information resources
Report on an evaluation of federated search engines and link resolvers conducted at the University of Pretoria

Use the above to access the following:
  • Report
  • Evaluation Instrument
  • Comparative Evaluation
  • Data

During our thorough dynamic summative and formative (and independent) evaluation we only looked at commercial products - from the evaluation we managed to list them according to our preferences, but none were fully up to our standards at the time (November 2005). We in stead decided to go for the Google Scholar option. We use Google Scholar as our federated search engine (also to search across subscription e-resources), and ScholarSFX (available free of charge to eIFL countries) as a full text link resolver. The motivation behind this is because we were not sure whether a federated solution will solve our problems - there are also disadvantages to using federated search engines, e.g. e-resources with limiting access being occupied by unnecessary searches running through that e-resource/database. Another reason is - students who want to conduct searches within specific databases are happy to do so - some of the functionalities in individual databases are lost when searching the database via a federated search engine. We rather wanted to target students who avoid the library resources because it is so difficult to find their way through the maze of hundreds of databases, and who are not aware of the resources.

Since our clients use Google, and want and prefer a Google interface, we decided to find ways on how to utilise Google Scholar to the advantage of ourselves and our clients. Through Google Scholar we would like to make our clients more aware of the valuable resources to which we subscribe. We are of the opinion that Google Scholar and Scholar SFX offer many of the advantages a federated search product and link resolver would have offered. I would like to encourage you to have a look at a presentation recently by myself and Sunette Steynberg , available on our UPSpace (DSpace) institutional repository at:

UPSpace >> Collections & Communities >> Academic Information Service (Library)
Title: Power-searching the "3-click" world: a federated search solution for clients at the University of Pretoria

I doubt if we will go for a federated search engine and link resolver in the near future, and are happy with what we can achieve with Google Scholar and Scholar SFX for now (free of charge!) If you need some further input or comments from our side, or have any specific questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Evaluation of Federated Search Engines & Link Resolvers

We conducted an independent comparative evaluation of Federated Search Engines & Link Resolvers from the literature, e-mails received and the response from vendors. For more information on the evaluation, contact us.

Note: The criteria used is based on the criteria developed by Domer, D.G. & Curtis, A. (2003). A comparative review of common user interface software products for libraries: report commissioned by the National Library of New Zealand.

Where needed it has been adapted for our purposes. View permission to use criteria within document.


Becker, D., Proske,R., Crowster, N. & Lilley, L. (2004). A first in Africa: implementation of Metalib and SFX at the Cape Technikon Library. In: Electronic journal of academic and special librarianship, v5, no1 Spring 2004.

Breeding, M. & Roddy, C. (2003). The Competition Heats Up. In: Library Journal, 4/1/2003, Vol. 128 Issue 6, p52.

Cousijn, E. Comparison between selection and evaluation criteria for web search engines and databases INL 211 Theme 10.

Domer, D.G. & Curtis, A. (2003).
A comparative review of common user interface software products for libraries: report commissioned by the National Library of New Zealand.

Frost, W.J. (2004). Do We Want or Need Metasearching? In: Library Journal, 4/1/2004, Vol. 129 Issue 6, p68.

Library of Congress Portals Applications Issues Group.
List of Portal Application functionalities for the Library of Congress First draft for public comment.

Luther, J. (2003). Trumping Google? Metasearching's Promise. In: Library Journal, 10/1/2003, Vol. 128 Issue 16, p36.

Oppenheim, C., Morris, A. & McKnight, C. (2000). The evaluation of WWW search engines. In: Journal of Documentation Vol 56 no 2 March 2000.

Rettig, J. (2004). Access to imperfect systems. In: Library Journal, 5/15/2004, Vol. 129 Issue 9, p10.

Rogers, M. & Kenney, B. (2004). Moving Beyond Metasearching: Are Wrappers the Next Big Thing? In: Library Journal, 11/15/2004, Vol. 129 Issue 19, p21.

Webster, P. (2004). Metasearching in an Academic Environment. In: Online, Mar/Apr2004, Vol. 28 Issue 2, p20.

Zimmerman, D. (2004). Metasearching's Teaching Moments. In: Library Journal, 9/1/2004, Vol. 129 Issue 14, p54.


Academic Information Service (Library)

Application Service Provider


Database Management System

Federated Search Engine

Information Technology

Lightweight Directory Access Protocol
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Library Management System

Millennium Access Plus (from Innovative)
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National Information Standards Organization

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Postgraduate students

Rich Site Summary (or "Real Simple Sindication")
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Selective Dissemination of Information Service

Search Engine

Link Resolver from Ex Libris
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Undergraduate Students

University of Pretoria
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Uniform Resource Locator

Web Access Management (from Innovative)
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Extensible Markup Language

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