This past fall, WebFeat, one of the major companies specializing in federatedsearch products for libraries, advanced its product strategy on three fronts. The first involves enlisting a higher degree of cooperation with the publishers targeted by its federated-search products. Secondly, the company introduced a version of its search product geared for the international arena, offering better support for localized languages in the interface. On the third front, WebFeat recently launched a version of its product designed for library consortia.
A Benefit for Libraries
In order to create easier connections between its federated-search platform and the myriad targeted information resources, WebFeat launched its initiative, the “WebFeat Friendly Partnership Program.” As libraries increasingly embrace federated search as one of the primary means for providing access to the information resources to which they subscribe—and as WebFeat continues to gain ground as the dominant provider of federated-search technologies—it becomes increasingly important to optimize the way information resources interact with WebFeat’s technology.
Although WebFeat can force almost any information resource into its federated-searching environment, libraries gain significant advantages when the resource providers actively cooperate with federated-search developers. It’s much better for information providers to offer an XML gateway or other API to access their systems than to force federated-search developers to develop connectors based on the HTML presentation of their Web interfaces.
A few information-resource providers have resisted the movement toward federated search but can do little to prevent companies like WebFeat from engineering connectors that integrate their content by mimicking a user and parsing the HTML. The current trend, fortunately, involves increased cooperation between the information providers and the federatedsearch developers.
The WebFeat Friendly Partnership program provides information providers an opportunity to actively cooperate with WebFeat in delivering access to their resources. Those that already offer an XML gateway into their products already qualify for inclusion in the program. WebFeat lists the following companies as initial participants in the program: ABCCLIO, Alexander Street Press, ARTstor, EBSCO, Elsevier, Facts on File, H.W. Wilson, IEEE, JSTOR, Lexis-Nexis, Naxos, NewsBank, and Thomson Gale.
For Library Consortia
Designed to accommodate advanced requirements for operating a federatedsearch environment by a consortium on behalf of its many individual libraries, the company launched the WebFeat Enterprise Edition. This version of the WebFeat federated-search environment includes an enhanced set of tools that provide such functions as multi-site authentication, the ability to configure multiple configuration profiles, and multiple levels of usage reporting. This version of the product incorporates features already in use at some of WebFeat’s existing multi-library implementations.
About a dozen statewide or multilibrary networks rely on WebFeat, including the Consortium of Academic Research Libraries in Illinois; Georgia’s statewide GALILEO virtual-library project; the Louisiana Library Network; the New York Online Virtual Electronic Library; the Ohio Public Library Information Network; the Southeast Florida Library Information Network; and the resources offered through the state libraries in Arizona, Louisiana, New York, Nevada, and Oregon. eiNetwork, a network of more than eighty libraries in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County in Pennsylvania will be the company’s first customer for its technologies packaged as “WebFeat Enterprise Edition.”