A report on a Metasearch survey among RLG Members was posted on the RLG website the other day. The survey was done during May and June and consisted of interviews with a small set of institutions that are at various stages of implementing metasearch facilities for their communities. I’m not sure that this topic has the same interest across libraries, museums and archives although the materials in all these institutions are targets for the meta of all metasearch applications – web search engines. It’s really libraries who seem most driven to add value to the large array of information resources that they license by putting a metasearch engine on top. From the survey it’s clear that one of the goals is to provide a simplified user interface where results will be merged. There were a number of things that surprised me – the relative indifference to effective ranking algorithms, the extent to which this was viewed as a tool to help undergraduates get started on research, and the disdain for efforts like Google Scholar that seem to have already established the search paradigm for the undergraduate audience. The survey was confirmatory about a number of directions to which RLG has already committed – designing Archival Resources as a target for metasearch engines is a low priority because of this predicted undergraduate focus and we’re putting more effort into making RLG image resources interoperate with other image aggregations rather than worrying about how they behave as a target. We wondered whether what we gleaned from these interviews matches well with what you see at your institution. Tell us.
We’ve already gotten a very thoughtful response from Roy Tennant at the California Digital Library that I’ve posted with his permission, as a comment.