At a recent local consortium gathering, a librarian lamented that students would wait for 20 minutes for a cup of Starbucks, but wouldn’t want to spend that much time searching library databases. Another librarian commented it might be because searching was not as rewarding or gratifying as getting a cup of coffee. You waited for 20 minutes and you got your coffee. You searched for 20 minutes, you got frustration! There are so many databases to search and so many tricks to learn!
Yes, “so many databases” is a mixed blessing. There is an instinctive demand for metasearch tools, which search multiple databases simultaneously through one interface. The term, metasearch is also sometimes referred to as cross search, federated search or broadcast search etc. Popular commercial metasearch engines include Ex Libris’s MetaLib, Serials Solution’s 360 Search, WebFeat, etc. Google Scholar is probably the most convenient free metasearch engine that searches both the open and deep web (such as licensed databases). To learn how to search JSRCC library collections through Google Scholar, please check http://teach.jsr.vccs.edu/library/googlelib.doc.
Our users can also conduct metasearches through MetaLib which groups databases by disciplines. To access MetaLib, go to the Library Catalog (VCCSLinc) at http://vccslinc.vccs.edu/F/?func=find-b-0&local_base=jsrcc. Click on Databases once you get in. You will be required to provide your MyJSRCC login.
However, metasearching is not the almighty solution to the stress caused by ‘so many databases.” First of all, it’s not hard to understand that a metasearch is not going to be as powerful and sophisticated as a native search on each individual database. An even more serious problem is that it’s not exhaustive – you will yield much more results with native searches. This is particularly true of Google Scholar. Therefore, a metasearch will not replace a native search for its thoroughness. However, a metasearch is definitely a convenient first stop.