Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Goodbye, BearHunt

QuickSearch via BearHunt will no longer be available beginning May 1st. There are a number of reasons that the library chose to discontinue this federated search service. Most important, as everyone is tightening their belts, BearHunt came at a substantial cost while offering no new content. Also important, usage was low compared to cost. When it first became available, we were excited to try a federated search, but along with other CLIC libraries and the rest of the library world, we’ve realized that the technology needed to support the idea isn’t quite there yet. The relevancy rankings don’t seem to work correctly or consistently, links were frequently broken, searches executed slowly, and the interface left a lot to be desired. We also felt there was a possibility that it was misleading searchers to think they were searching “everything”, while in fact there are a number of both purchased and freely available resources that aren’t included in a BearHunt search. Also, the search is not complete in that it stops at a predetermined time interval instead of continuing until all searches have had a chance to complete. In the end, BearHunt and federated search as it now exists seems at odds with our mission to teach academic research skills tailored to specific situations and inquiries, using the full breadth of our resources. We will look forward to new federated search products with anticipation, especially if they meet our criteria of completeness and have added-value in their presentation.

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