Single Search Presentation recap

The Single Search webinar had representatives from the University of Calgary, from the Minnesota Historical Society, and the Smithsonian. Each speaker (including moderator Gunter Waibel) spoke to the challenges of cobbling together a single search interface from a variety of data sources.

The Minnesota Historical Society, with its wide range of cultural and governmental documents and relatively small funding base, seemed to have the greatest challenges to its single search goals. Michael Fox from the organization spoke about the change in user base over time (scholars to general public) and the pressure that puts onto the institution to make its collections and information stores extremely accessible to a theoretical lowest-common-denominator end user. The MHS uses the following software to store, organize, and make its data accessible to users.

KE Software’s EMu:
Autonomy IDOL server:
Google custom search:
In-house SQL server and XML files
Ex Libris’ Aleph ILS:

Obviously all of these information centers have the daunting task of extracting many forms of data from proprietary and non-proprietary silos and making them play well together. It is equally obvious that this is still a work in progress in the field as a whole, and that each institution must come up with its own solutions, incorporating a variety of software and hardware solutions, metadata crosswalking and equivalencies, and a willingness to live with a work in progress.