I first heard about Reference Extract back in 2008. I thought it was a great idea then, and am glad to see this additional funding in place to keep the project moving forward. Here is more information from the press release:
DUBLIN, Ohio, January 6, 2011—The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has awarded $350,000 to fund researchers and developers from OCLC, the information schools of Syracuse University and the University of Washington and Zepheira LLC to continue work creating a more credible Web search experience based on the unique expertise, services and input from librarians worldwide.
The goal of the Reference Extract project is to make it easy to find credible information in the digital age. Researchers and developers are expected to have initial practical analysis and models of this “credibility engine” to share with the community in early 2011. Details of this work can be found through the Reference Extract home page at http://www.referencextract.org/. Continue reading
Interesting article on E-Library Economics in Inside Higher Education. Discussion surrounds Syracuse University’s plan for a more digital library and transformation of the physical library to student study space, which met with resistance from faculty and students. The author, Steve Kolowich, sites various studies on the economics of digital libraries and the design of the future library. “Taken together, these studies point to twin conclusions: The sooner professors and students embrace e-books, the sooner their libraries can start saving money — but that might not happen for a while.” Kolowich goes on to discuss issues with eBooks, eReaders, and standard formats like EPUB.
OCLC, the University of Washington, and Syracuse University are working together to create a “credible” search engine, one that offers results with preference to sites selected by librarians.
According to the press release, “Reference Extract is envisioned as a Web search experience similar to those provided by the world’s most popular search engines. However, unlike other search engines, Reference Extract will be built for maximum credibility of search results by relying on the expertise of librarians. Users will enter a search term and receive results weighted toward sites most often used by librarians at institutions such as the Library of Congress, the University of Washington, the State Library of Maryland, and over 2,000 other libraries worldwide.”
I think this is a fabulous idea, despite what others might think about potential librarian bias, and hope these groups take this idea a few steps further. Wouldn’t it be great if publishers, data aggregators, and libraries who maintain scholarly content could populate this engine with data from invisible web sources – like catalogs, databases, eBook platforms. We could bridge the google gap and offer our patrons a true scholarly search engine. Information industry vendors could advertise, link resolvers could be inserted based on general IP of the user, and librarians across the world could band together to offer a real time chat service on the engine. Think of the money this could save us on metasearch tools! I know, dream on.�