Federated Search Enabled Library Portal Computer Science Essay

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Many libraries and Documentation Centres build portals which are having rich and varied information resource materials. For proof, just check the websites of the IIM Ahmedabad Library Portal, MDI Library Portal, etc... However, it is to see that library portal is a single platform where we are putting links of each individual resource. Usually on library portal we find separate link to access OPAC, separate link to access Digital Library, separate link to access e-journals etc. So, is it a perfect GUI for user to retrieve information? The simple answer is no. The ideal retrieval system is, user will have full privilege to search, filter & extract the information without considering the barriers of resource format, location.

If we take a look on software market, many open source and paid applications are available in the market to build websites (portals). Now, it is difficult to understand & decide which software application Libraries or Documentation Centres need to adopt to establish a library portal in terms of its services as they are vary from one institution to another. But, It is easier to examine the application based on two components content management system (CMS) & federated search.

Content Management System

The content management system (CMS or content management system) is software to manage easily and effectively static and dynamic pages of a website. It has multiple functions:

Manage the involvement of several editors on a document

Separate editorial operations and formatted for web publishing

Provide access to communication services between users and librarians and archivists (discussion forum, intervention in a blog, chat, etc.)

Organize user access to the website content structures (eg lists of frequently asked questions, son of the RSS)

Structuring the portal into a set of HTML pages, enjoyable and easy to use.

Various Open Source & Paid add-ons

Well known Content Management System

Open Source Paid

Joomla - Microsoft SharePoint Server

Drupal - Adobe Business Catalyst

MODx - OpenText Web Experience Management

DotNetNuke - IBM Lotus Web Content Management

OpenCms - Contegro

Federated Search

Federated search is a service provided to users by enabling a single query to consult several sources of data, heterogeneous both in terms of formats content. Federated search software has three main functions:

Presentation of structured information sources searchable to facilitate the selection by the user bases to seek

Entry of the request of the user (Proper GUI)

Display of search results, without duplication

Well known Federated Search Tools

Open Source Paid

??????? - Agent (Auto-Graphics, Inc.)

??????? - DQM2, Deep Query Manager

??????? - MetaLib (Ex Libris, Inc.)

??????? - Muse Solutions and MuseSearch ( MuseGlobal, Inc.)

??????? - Power Search Plus (Gale)


Integrating CMS & Other resource with the architecture

Integration is standard process of indexing contents irrespective of format & location. This means that there will be no transformation or changes in the format in the information.

Various Content Repositories: These are the repositories where actually contents/data stored. For library & document centres the repositories will be Library Automation/Management System, Digital Library (DSpace, eprint etc. repository), e-Journal archive links (RSS) and CMS.

Search Engine Spider / Document Indexer: This is basically crawler which checks the respective repositories’ log files on scheduled time and indexes the new data and updated the existing index file. This crawler checks the data individually and creates the index individually for each repository.

Search Engine Index: Search engine index is a process where the new standardize database will be generated and using the document indexer. But this database will be in standard format without considering any file, repository.

Search Engine Application (Federated Search GUI): This is a end-user graphical user interface in which user enters their search terms. At the time of search the term the application uses the search engine index (standard index format) file and retrieves the result.

The main contents exist on internal or external database systems, or even in database-driven content management systems. Search engine indexer tools are used to crawl or spider the desired content sources into a single search index or collection. Once built, the search application can search the index and return consolidated results to users.

Few Facts about Federated Search

User management: The while integrating the system must be capable to identify the library portal users & library management / automation system users. Mapping user credentials and access rights to each of the repository security.

Content Duplicate: While integrating the document index might be possible same resources will be available in two different places / databases. For federated search engine 100% de-duping is impossible. In order to restrict the duplicate the process has to download all the search results and compare them and in this case de-duping will be not an issue from the federated search engine but it will be depend on how the individual databases returned the results.

Content Structure: Information content structures provided by the publishers on the Web.

Huge Data Search & Many Results: As the result come out from the single index but from the multiple sources it will take much more time in searching and as a result it will show many datasets as a result.

Irrelevant Ranking: It is not possible to generate a relevance ranking because a relevance ranking basically calculates the occurrence of words being searched in the specified searchable fields.

Loose faults of updated data: A federated search engine searches database that update and change the data as per the specified frequency. So, if any database got updated but after the time schedule of indexing the end-user will not get the updates in federated search result.


Federated search are becoming common for library & information centres. The main reason behind the utilization of federation search is user will get single platform to search and retrieve the desired resources whether the resource is in book format or in digital content or part of any e-journal. It is easy and user friendly. But it has two big challenges like timely updation of indexing so that end-user will get recently updated results and security aspect. In India few libraries have initiated this kind of project using third party application. At the same time we should not neglect that federated search can get us results from the multiple resources but end-user will get better result only from the native database search. So, it is up to the user’s requirements. As a librarian point of view prior to install the federated search engine check whether it can able to search all your databases using library’s own authentication.

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