Google Scholar has the potential to attract our users with its ease, speed, and relevance-ranking using cited references.  Although it is still in a beta phase, it has already had a profound effect upon our world.  Two recent developments related to Google Scholar involve UC-eLinks and the metasearch project.

First, thanks to Peter Brantley, CDL Director of Technology, a small group of academic library technologists have begun working informally with Google to encourage the development of information services that work in an academic setting.

One of the fruits of continuing conversations between academic librarians and Google was the support for open URL resolution services in Google Scholar.  Last week, Google added UC’s open URL link resolver, UC-eLinks, to Google Scholar.  As a consequence, faculty and students who use Google Scholar and are on the UC network can link from references to full text (where available) via the UC-eLinks page.

The group is now exploring the possibility of Google utilizing the journal data that drive the linking process. If this happens, it could enhance users’ experiences by permitting full-text access with only one click from Google search results.

However, we believe that many of our users will continue to need more specialized information environments than Google will likely supply.  Although Google Scholar may evolve to contain a large number of information resources, it will not likely present them in a manner that emphasizes authority, integrity, and selectivity, as well as ease and speed of access.

Although we expect that Google Scholar will fundamentally change the way in which we build and present scholarly digital libraries, we do not anticipate that it will mitigate the need for them.

Accordingly, the CDL will continue experiments with metasearching using Ex Libris’ Metalib product.  The approach is different from, and complementary to, Google’s approach.  Rather than seeking to search all sources at once, we are testing the value of creating more focused subsets of targets to search together.  These may be based on a particular audience, subject area, or format.

The CDL is also testing tools to bring in sources of relevant information via techniques such as RSS feeds, OAI-harvested content, and crawled web sites.  These methods are part of the broader set of site building tools that we are developing for libraries so they can select and present focused, curated sets of resources for their users.

These are exciting times for all of us and they continue to hold as many opportunities for our continued innovation.