Beyond Federated Search Redux

It started with a post by Carl Grant on the Federated Search Blog: Beyond Federated Search – Winning the Battle and Losing the War?. I bookmarked this in Delicious and copied this extended quote from the text into the bookmark:

I’ve long argued that librarianship on top of digital information is about the authority/authenticity/appropriateness of the information provided to the user, as opposed to the overwhelming amounts of information available via other search tools that don’t provide that differentiation. In order to meet those tests, one thing that is clear is that libraries and librarians should never cede control to other organizations over the content they offer to their end-users. It doesn’t matter if that happens because the content providers fail to provide access via federated search, or whether the library has allowed third party organizations to determine what content they can access via a local index discovery tool. Ceding this control cripples the ability of a library to build unique and precise informational offerings that target the needs of their end-users.

This in turn got pulled into my FriendFeed stream and the ensuing discussion seemed too valuable to let sit there, so I’m creating this post with those replies and adding a little bit more of my own thoughts. (Since all of these were public comments, I believe it is good nettiquete to reproduce them here with attribution. If not, please let me know…particularly if you are one of the people quoted!)

A Known Citation Discovery Tool in a Library2.0 World

When it comes to seeking a full-text copy of that known-item citation, are our users asking “what have you done for me lately?” OpenURL has taken us pretty far when one starts in an online environment — a link that sends the citation elements to our favorite link resolver — but it only works when the user starts online with an OpenURL-enabled database. (We also need to set aside for the moment the need for some sort of OpenURL base resolver URL discovery tool — how does an arbitrary service know which OpenURL base resolver I want to use!) What if a user has a citation on a printed paper or from some other non-online form? Could we make their lives easier, too? Here is one way. (Thanks go out to Celeste Feather and Thomas Dowling for helping me think through the possibilities and issues.)

Authentication and Access in a Metasearch Environment

Mike Teets of OCLC and I teamed up to write an article on Metasearch Authentication and Access Management for this month’s D-Lib Magazine. The first part of the article is a bit of a primer on access management techniques followed by a survey and analysis of access management schemes in use last year. The key part, I think, is the “Recommendations” (access restrictions by IP address plus authenticated proxy servers is the best one can hope for right now) and “Next Steps” (Shibboleth is superior to other access control mechanisms beyond IP/proxy that one might consider, but there is lots of work to be done).