Metasearching… I really enjoyed the KUDZU Catalog (I linked it because kudzu.com is not what you want) example that we looked at in class, it made it very real. As Pete Coco writes, “the reduced friction patrons face when using library resources correlates to an increase — potentially dramatic — in the frequency with which they access them.”
I go back to my previous comments about my friends and Google, ease of use often trumps the need for the best information. Why go through a potentially complicated (to non-familiar users, especially) search process when you could use a single search box like KUDZU or Scout. While those in the know (cough*classmates in LS566*cough) are aware of the potential downfalls of Scout, the average user wants the best information at the lowest cost of effort and time.
Pete Coco also talks about user education vs. user convenience and makes a good point about showing the student the differences between a search in Google and a search in Summon (with the “scholarly” box checked) and how that demonstrates to the student the quality of sources returned. This is a great idea if you have the resources to reach students and have them go through an experience like that.
Maybe I’m more jaded or less of a romantic, but I feel like the majority of young people I know are looking for instant gratification and instant information. Can we convince users that the quality of information is so much better that it is worth the extra time to do a search through the university library system or *gasp* by selecting a database to search through? I’m going to guess that metasearches are where we are going and we need to continue to improve them.
This was kind of a long one, so if you stuck with me, here is a treat: