Out-googling Google: Federated Searching and the Single Search Box (Contributed Paper)

Katy Silberger and Verne Newton from Marist College shared their experiences implementing Central Search, a product from Serial Solutions. Federated search was implemented as part of a web site redesign. Direct links to discipline specific resources and federated searching is available on the library's front page. Their federated search is dubbed Fox Hunt, after the college's mascot, the red foxes.

A conscious decision was made to include Google and Google Scholar as part of federated search. The single federated search box includes the phrase, “Search library databases and Google at the same time," to get student's attention. Katy shared that during instruction she informs students that Google is not able to index the deep web (like subscription databases). By using Fox Hunt, students have a better chance of finding more relevant sources for their assignments. Usage statistics show a dramatic increase in the number of full text article usage and PDF downloads.  

Image searching was an additional benefit for Marist from their implementation of federated search. The college offers a fashion design/merchandising major. It was often challenging for students to find pictures of fashion for class projects. The Library's solution to this problem was to include the NYPL Digital Gallery, NYPL Picture Collection Online, and American Memory web sites as part of the fashion design/merchandising federated search. Katy indicated that the descriptions in American Memory are very detailed and often include clothing descriptions. 

The conference paper, presentation, and demos of Fox Hunt are available on Marist's web site.  

I was most impressed by their decision to include the image collections in federated search. Image searching is not currently included in OhioLINK's federated search tool. I am not sure if it has been considered, but worth suggesting. Ohio students (and all Ohioans with a public library card) are able to search across multiple art collections within the Digital Media Center. However, it would be nice to include other open digital collections in the OhioLINK federated search tool.

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