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Tuesday, 10th May 2005

Be It Resolved that Google Scholar is Now Open to More Libraries

Google Scholar
Direct Links to Articles: Google Scholar is Now Open to All Libraries
Today, the "small" Google Scholar pilot that went live in February -- allowing about 30 libraries and institutions to provide direct links to articles found in the Google Scholar database -- is being expanded.

Now, ANY library or institution that has the proper link resolving software can hook into Google Scholar and provide direct links to articles found via a GS search. This is a service the library community has been asking for since Google Scholar launched last November. You can find all of the details here. Google also is releasing a help page for the service.

Additionally, Google Scholar has increased the number of journals and books to which it can link directly. Previously, only articles with DOIs (digital object identifiers) or PMIDs (PubMed unique identifier) would work. Now, after collaboration with many link resolver vendors, Google is able to gain access and crawl local holdings information for a specific institution or library, to help provide direct links to articles. In other words, DOIs are not required.

Google Scholar developer Anurag Acharya told ResourceShelf that most libraries should be able to turn on a configuration option in their link resolver and be up and running in a short amount of time. He also told us that each participating library will appear as a selectable affiliation via a search on the preferences page. This will allow Google Scholar users to take advantage of these direct links when they are accessing the database off-campus or via a computer that is not on the campus network.

Finally, Acharya alerted us to a change on Google Scholar results pages. Now, if the searcher's preferred library has access to an article found via Google Scholar, a direct link to the material will receive better placement on the search results page. The link will now be found directly next to the title of the article or book and, in some cases, made even more visible by appearing in a different color than other parts of the entry.

Google Scholar remains in beta. Here's the official announcement from the Google Blog.

Google has also unveiled an FAQ page for publishers.

Google deserves kudos for opening up this service to all libraries. However, even as the Google Scholar database continues to grow, we still don't know precisely when or how often it's updated, the lag time (if any) for material to get into the database, and other important facts like what will or will not be included in the database. It would also be great if Google could provide a list of sources to which they are providing access.

Of course, many of the impressive features found at CiteSeer and SmealSearch (two EXCELLENT databases for discipline-specific scholarly material on the web) would also be welcome. If you've never used these databases, they are well worth your attention.

BTW, I asked if Google Print content would be added to Google Scholar sometime soon -- a logical step. The company had no comment about the possible inclusion of this material.

What we find an interesting coincidence is that while Google builds this monster database containing "scholarly" info from many disciplines, specialized search tools (what the search industry calls "verticals") are growing very rapidly in both exposure and usage. True, Google Scholar is in many ways a vertical. However, it still doesn't offer the searchability that a specialized database (which libraries have always offered) can provide -- e.g., versus a massive database with little control.

ResourceShelf still believes in the federated search concept where disparate databases may be searched simultaneously. The end user, instructor, librarian, etc., chooses appropriate databases at the time of the search. Tools facilitating database selection are also coming online. And many pieces of federated technology allow the searcher to take advantage of the advanced features a database might offer via its native interface.

Finally, info pros do recognize the importance of Google Scholar and other online databases (often fee-based) that go beyond a simple open web search. However, just "us" knowing about these tools is not enough. We need to let people know they're out there and can potentially save them time and effort. We've said it before: People can't use what they don't know about. Yes, some of the information in specialized databases can also be found on the web and accessed via a Google, Yahoo, MSN, or Ask Jeeves search. However, just because material is "in" a database, doesn't mean that it will surface in a web search where the searcher uses a couple of terms and only looks at the first few results. Which is also why dynamic clustering is a valuable tool and can help the typical searcher deal with the "long tail." Clustering company Vivisimo says its technology offers "selective ignorance."

Obviously, info pros have a role to serve by teaching end users how to take full advantage of the search technologies that are available.

See Also: Google Scholar Review from Charleston Advisor
"...this is a challenging product in a challenged environment. At present, the librarian's challenge must be to alert users to the current pitfalls and existing, viable alternatives." Thanks to the On Google Scholar Blog for link.
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See Also: Google Scholar Review By Peter Jacso
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See Also: Recent LJ Article About GS
A few more tidbits about Google Scholar and some on target comments from librarian John McDonald at CalTech.

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