The Military Libraries Training Workshop (MLTW) held last week, December 6-9, was a great success for Deep Web Technologies. After a quick trip to Europe to participate in the PTFS Europe Customer Day, I traveled to Arlington, VA to visit with customers at the MLTW, and tell the Explorit Everywhere! story to new prospects.
I gave a Two Minute Talk on Monday during the sponsor showcase (see picture) to introduce Explorit Everywhere!, our next-generation federated search product. As it turns out, several customers attended the Workshop and introduced me to prospects who could benefit from Explorit Everywhere!.
Tuesday, many of us toured the National Defense University Library (also a customer of ours), and afterwards had a great dinner at the Ft. McNair Officers’ Club. Of particular interest to me was the talk by Dr. Paul Severance, Professor of Military Science at the National Defense University and head docent at the Lincoln Assassination Conspirator’s Trail Restored Courtroom. He went into great detail about the Lincoln conspiracy, assassination, pursuit, trial and aftermath, all of which I found fascinating. I also now have The Conspirator on my “to-watch” movie list, as it was highly recommended by Dr. Severance.
I was disappointed to hear that this workshop will only be held every other year now. Deep Web Technologies is already planning to be at the next MLTW in 2017!
Editor’s Note: This presentation was given by Paul Mellinger, Discovery Manager (Resources & Systems), at the University of the Arts London (UAL), to attendees of the PTFS Europe Customer Day in early December 2015. PTFS Europe and Deep Web Technologies (DWT) recently partnered to broaden PTFS Europe offerings, and to provide the opportunity to integrate Explorit Everywhere! federated search and Koha library software for customers. UAL, already a customer of both services, kindly offered an educational review of UAL’s experiences with Explorit Everywhere!. As a follow up, Paul also graciously wrote the following excerpt to accompany his presentation on the Deep Web Technologies’ blog.
For those of you unfamiliar with Prezi, use the bottom left and right arrows to scroll through this presentation.
The aim of the presentation was to give some historical context to the current Library Search offering from UAL Library Services and to attempt to explain the seemingly unusual choice of employing DWT’s next-generation federated search engine ‘Explorit Everywhere!’, branded as ‘Articles Plus’. The first half of the presentation charts the progress of the Library Services web portal and its inherent search options, whilst the latter half comprises a series of screencasts, highlighting some of the features of ‘Articles Plus’.
A few metaphorical images were used, the relevance of which may not be immediately apparent, without the accompanying talk.
The appearance of Capability Brown and his work as a landscaper is a fairly obvious comparison to the process of assessing and designing the library portal to fit the information landscape. I thought it pertinent, in the light of the evolution of UAL’s Library Services web pages, that Brown’s nickname was not due to his prodigious talent, as widely-believed, but because he would always tell his landed clients when assessing the scope of the grounds that they possessed “capability” for the landscape to be improved.
The image of ‘Apples and Oranges’ was mentioned at various points throughout the presentation to allude to the process of deciding which resources were to be searched together, e.g. in the Library Catalogue (Koha) or in ‘Articles Plus’ (Explorit Everywhere!) and which would be searched entirely separately, e.g. the UAL Archive Catalogue. This also helps to explain the mock-up search of ‘Books and e-Books’, which illustrates the flexibility of Explorit Everywhere! and offers a possible solution for the possibility of removing e-books from the library catalogue.
The metaphor of the scuba diver and the jet ski was taken from page 17 of the book ‘The Shallows: how the Internet is changing the way we think, read and remember’ by Nicholas Carr. In the book, it is used to describe the experiential difference between reading books and reading content on the internet. I thought that this represented an appropriate analogy to demonstrate the philosophical underpinning of our choice of discovery tool as it reflects the difference in the respective models of ‘web-scale discovery services’ and federated search engines, the former marketed for the ‘Google Generation’ and dependent on huge banks of pre-harvested metadata, the latter open to genuine customisation, providing the ability to delve down into customer-specific resources and therefore more conducive to ‘deep’ research.
The quote from Roy Tennant highlights the irony that it was bandied around by vendors of web-scale discovery tools around 2009-2011, although it was originally written in 2001 to extol the ability of federated search engines to allow users to search multiple electronic sources, without having to access and become familiar with each individual search interface.
The deep zoom-back to reveal the final slide of the presentation is intended to depict the ‘unknown’ information landscape of the future.
That’s the tagline for the Helen Hayes Hospital MULTIsearch gateway and isn’t it great? Organizations often find that adding just a few words of explanation helps them successfully market their new Explorit Everywhere! search application to their researchers, and usage goes up. We thought that Helen Hayes did a wonderful job explaining why users benefit from using MULTIsearch instead of going directly to PubMed or Google.
MULTIsearch: More than PubMed®, Better than Google!
Besides PubMed, MULTIsearch searches 15 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES! So, YES—more than PubMed!
Because these resources have been carefully selected for their reputable, reliable health care information, YOU DON’T HAVE TO SCAN A BAZILLION RESULTS to find the “good ones”! So, YES—better than Google!
Wellspring, a leader in efficient technology scouting, will host a webinar titled “The simpler way to find and manage technology” on December 2nd at 1pm ET/10am PT.
Wellspring’s Search Once Scouting tool incorporates Deep Web Technologies’ Explorit Everywhere! federated search as a critical part of the knowledge supply chain. Eliminating search duplication, Search Once Scouting captures current and relevant knowledge and offers rich data output, simplifying a more cumbersome scouting process.
With Wellspring’s Search Once Scouting tool, over 100 million records from over thirty authoritative sources are simultaneously searched and presented in the Wellspring for Technology Scouting and Corporate Venturing software solutions. Users can select a search result and dynamically import it as a new opportunity record with no data entry. Firms can then quickly route and evaluate technology and investment opportunities. Unlike spreadsheets, databases, or document-sharing systems, all opportunities can be managed with sourcing and investment processes united in one place, ensuring true collaboration and the application of best practices.
You can read more about why Search Once Scouting offers technology scouting companies a boost in this article, “New, Better Way to Search for Technology” and register for the webinar here.
Many mainstream libraries have a standard list of sources they search: EBSCO, ProQuest, ScienceDirect, PubMed, and others. Including the usual “suspects” in a single search isn’t terribly hard for most discovery solutions (federated search or discovery services) unless they are competing information vendors who do not want to play nice – see this post: The Last of the Major Discovery Services is Independent No More.
But, once information journeys down the road less traveled, sources are less likely to be included in a discovery solution. The information may be considered more valuable by content owners and so they are reluctant to include it in an indexed service. If the content is specialized, interest in the source may be limited to only a small group of customers, excluding the source from discovery services and most federated search vendors where broad appeal prevails. Some sources also may be technically challenging to include in a discovery solution.
These sources are considered un-indexable and un-federatable.
Fortunately, Explorit Everywhere! specializes in un-federatable sources. We connect to databases that most discovery service vendors steer clear of, and most federated search services are simply unable to touch with their lightweight connector technology. The robust connectors included in Explorit Everywhere!, however, can tackle the most ornery sources for special libraries and research organizations.
For example, one of our newest customers chose DWT as their discovery solution vendor because they were mired in this un-federatable dilemma. Their previous discovery solution vendors were not able to include quite a number of their important subscription information sources, leaving researchers to inefficiently spend time searching those sources separately. Once our prospect tested the proof-of-concept built by DWT, they realized that DWT could federate their un-federatable sources and chose Explorit Everywhere! as their discovery solution.
This particular customer, specializing in military and defense research, included challenging sources like these two:
- JANES – IHS Jane’s International Defence Review, specializing in defense and security.
- PERISCOPE – Includes open-source global defense information.
Really, what’s the point of having a single search technology if only half of your sources can be included? Explorit Everywhere! federates the unfederatable. Not only do our connector developers consider it a challenge to build robust connectors to these specialized sources, DWT’s focus has always been to connect our customers to their information, wherever it may be. New customers requiring “unfederatable” sources are pleasantly surprised when they find that not only are we willing to build connectors to their difficult sources, but we don’t charge extra to do so.
Interested in hearing more on how we connect to your “un-federatable” information sources? Email us, or find us at one of our upcoming conferences.
– PTFS Europe Customer Day
– Military Libraries Workshop
December 3rd and 4th mark exciting days for PTFS Europe, a new Deep Web Technologies partner (stay tuned for a press release this month). Their annual Customer Day conference, held at the Aston University in Birmingham, highlights customer case studies, product trainings and support as well as general PTFS Europe news. This is also a time to introduce new products, and Deep Web Technologies is pleased that Explorit Everywhere! is on the list!
Abe Lederman will travel to the U.K. for the Customer Day to briefly speak about Explorit Everywhere!, our next generation federated search product. In addition, we are thrilled that Paul Mellinger of the University of the Arts London, will be speaking about their experience with Explorit Everywhere!. UAL’s Explorit Everywhere! application was integrated with Koha, an open source library system, by the folks at PTFS Europe.
Deep Web Technologies is thrilled to take part in this event and looks forward to meeting PTFS Europe customers attending the conference.
This year Deep Web Technologies is attending the Military Libraries Training Workshop in Arlington, VA, December 6-9. Sponsored by the Military Libraries Division of SLA, the MLTW hosts 4 days of networking activities, talks, meetings and discussion for military librarians. For the full schedule, please see this page.
Deep Web Technologies, along with 50+ other vendors, will be exhibiting Sunday evening, and all day Monday and Tuesday. In addition, we’ve chosen to sponsor the Wednesday afternoon break, December 9th, which follows two discussions on FEDLINK (and yes we’re going to the FEDLINK vendor show too!).
If you plan on attending the 2015 MLTW, please stop by our table for a quick demo of Explorit Everywhere!.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest article by Anita Wilcox, E-resources Librarian at Boole Library, University College Cork in Ireland. The UCC library is an Explorit Everywhere! customer, and Anita, ever our advocate, graciously accepted the invitation to write a blog post for Deep Web Technologies’ “Customer Corner” amidst her busy schedule. Anita’s Enterprise Search Europe presentation may be viewed here.
When we opted for a federated search system in University College Cork Library, we were mindful of UCC’s strategic mission of becoming one of the best research universities in Ireland and globally. We realised that only a Federated Search System (FSS) can complement the student experience in the University.
However, with the advancement of Discovery tools, now called, Resource Discovery tools, we have come under tremendous pressure. Using Google as a benchmark, we are constantly being told that an FSS does not bring back properly ranked results, forgetting that it is Google that doesn’t necessarily bring back properly ranked results!
Recently, I went to the Enterprise Search Europe conference in London Olympia. It was a parallel conference to the Internet Librarian International conference; only this one is aimed at business enterprises. And the resources are mostly corporate knowledge base kept in-house; so search criteria is different. In Libraries we search almost all third party resources and our own Institutional repositories plus our catalogue. What amused me was the anecdotes like the CEO of an enterprise who thinks Google catches everything that is necessary for their work, and therefore “search doesn’t work!”
And it is here that I learnt about “slow search”! In an article called “Slow Search: Information Retrieval without Time Constraints” (http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2528394.2528395), authors Teevan et al tried to show “how people experience and value speed during search, and explores the viability of slow search as an alternative to current speed-focused approaches.” They used two user surveys (to) reveal how people trade off quality and speed… The overall aim of (their) paper was to inspire additional research on how search experiences can be optimized when less constrained by time. (p.2)
Keane, O’Brien & Smith from University College Dublin conducted a study on the use of Google search engine in 2008 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1314215.1314224). In my presentation I mentioned their findings that users are often “misled by the presented order of items”. They called this behaviours “satisficing”; the tendency to choose the most convenient and easiest route that leads to “good enough” information rather than the “best” information.
” A federated search system is like an archaeological dig; the more you narrow the field and dig deeper, the system delves deeper into those entrenched databases containing pertinent information.”
UCC Library opted for a federated search system because we believe one size does not fit all. Students are more mobile now with differing information needs. Our aim is to provide maximum visibility to all our resources that would include ways of clever searching. Explorit provides an intelligent search system through their Latent Semantic Text searching that is not possible in a pre-indexed service like a discovery tool which depends on the metadata provided by the publisher. To me, a discovery tool is like a key to a store, all products neatly labelled and shelved. A federated search system is like an archaeological dig; the more you narrow the field and dig deeper, the system delves deeper into those entrenched databases containing pertinent information.
Another reason is purely based on economics. A higher ranking Research University attracts more grants; so it makes a business sense to enhance our researchers’ experience by providing the necessary tools.
There are a number of challenges facing the Universities and other Academic Institutions at present – public-private partnership, change in user demography bringing in a change in user behaviour. At the same time the Discovery/Search environment is changing rapidly; we need to look for the MVP in whatever product we use; a product that will not restrict growth, but is scalable and enhance an organic development of the Institutional knowledge repositories.
In our case, the use of the federated search system became our MVP, not restricting our growth, but enhancing it, letting us grow organically. I did one training session with undergraduates before I went to the conference, and here is one comment: “Enjoyed the fact that we can create our own search engine – very helpful!”
The system allows them to develop their own critical thinking skills. Our users are growing up!!!
On October 6, ProQuest announced its intent to acquire Ex-lIbris, the Israeli company that provides a number of library automation products and services, and also provides the Primo Discovery Service.
So, soon all three of the major Discovery Services – EDS, Summon and Primo will be owned by EBSCO and ProQuest, two multi-billion dollar companies, who are fierce competitors and whose primary business is selling content and not Discovery Services.
In the past I have written a number of blog articles including Discovery Services: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in which I raised concerns that EBSCO and ProQuest don’t play nice together, limiting how much of their content they allow their competitor to provide in their Discovery Service. When they do include content from their competitors (not just the other Discovery Service vendor) they rank that content poorly.
Primo, owned by Ex-Libris, was different. Ex-Libris did not sell content and thus did not need to bias the order in which it presented results to the user.
In an October 6, 2014 article on its blog, Ex-Libris shared its frustrations on trying to reach a fair agreement with EBSCO that would allow Ex-Libris to index all of the EBSCO content in their Primo Discovery Service. I’m sure that these discussions will not become more fruitful now that Primo will soon be owned by ProQuest.
Carl Grant, in his October 8, 2015 blog post, comments on the ProQuest acquisition of Ex-Libris and in a paragraph on Content Neutrality underscores what I have been saying for years now:
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that we’ve lost another “content-neutral” discovery vendor as a result of this acquisition. That’s not a good thing for libraries, although most librarians ignore this reality. In the end, I believe they’ll regret doing so. We’ve had yet another check-and-balance removed from our supply chain. This post explains why content neutrality is so important and why that loss carries a potentially high price for libraries. So, in this regard, this is not good news. OCLC with their WorldCat offering remain our only content-neutral discovery solution at this point outside of open source solutions (which don’t’ have an aggregated metadata database like Primo Central, which provides important functionality for libraries).
From a Deep Web Technologies perspective I believe that this announcement is positive. Over time one of our competitors, Primo, will be absorbed into Summon, and libraries will increasingly see the advantages (transparency, neutrality and comprehensiveness of the content searched) that our next-generation Explorit Everywhere! federated search service has over Discovery Services.
Lots of libraries are doing it, sneaking off one day and subscribing to a discovery service. And after all, they’re catering to a new generation of researchers. The Google generation obsessively searches for everything – from restaurants to their next date. Many libraries are adopting discovery services as their new search of choice because it works fast and it’s good enough to give their undergrads something to work with that feels familiar. But, obsessive searching doesn’t necessarily mean good research.
Romanticized as the tool that will change researcher’s lives, discovery services are certainly intoxicating to think about. However, as some libraries are learning (and many of them are now our customers), subscribing to a discovery service doesn’t always shine the light deep enough into all of a library’s subscription information.
Fact: Discovery services arose, in part, from the resulting dissatisfaction of using those clunky old federated search tools back in the early part of this century. Federated search garnered a tough rap back in those days. However, just like the music industry, evolving from cassette tapes to CDs to MP3s to iPods, Federated Search has evolved as well. We consider Explorit Everywhere! the “next-generation” federated search. Explorit Everywhere! gives you a solid research foundation with plenty of bling to make your heart go pitter-patter. But, first and foremost, it’s about serious research.
Marshall Breeding, in his NISO whitepaper “The Future of Library Resource Discovery”, states “While there has been a major shift toward reliance on central indexes in support of discovery and away from technologies such as federated search, the change is not universal. Some institutions and projects have made deliberate choices to not adopt the index-based discovery model.
Stanford University, for example, has opted not to implement one of the commercial index-based discovery services. Even as one of the top research libraries in the world, it has not seen a great deal of interest from its patrons in having them acquire one of the commercial products”
Stanford happens to be an Explorit Everywhere! customer. It’s no coincidence that Stanford, as well as other top-notch research organizations, such as University College of Cork, abstain from discovery services. We’ve spoken of many reasons to steer clear from discovery services in previous blog posts, but for those still undecided, here is a good question to ask:
Who is your audience?
If your audience expects a vanilla solution that performs like Google and searches “enough” of your resources to get some decent looking results, then by all means, take the blue pill. But if your audience is comprised of serious researchers who need a comprehensive search of all of your sources, then we suggest abstaining from discovery services and find out how deep your information sources go.
Oh, and vendor neutrality? Try swallowing this pill: now that ProQuest is purchasing ExLibris, all three major discovery service vendors are owned by content publishers. Imagine where that puts results from your third-party sources or even information from competing discovery service vendors (the EBSCO-ProQuest conundrum).
One of our customers recently made this comparison: Discovery services are like a key to a storeroom full of goodies while Federated Search is like an archaeological dig. The more you dig, the more you find.
So here’s your tough choice: Obsessive searching, or serious finding?