What is MetaLib®?

MetaLib is an information portal to library collections. It enables institutions to provide their patrons with access to information resources such as catalogs, reference databases, citation databases, subject gateways, and e-journals. MetaLib offers MetaSearch™ capabilities across diverse resources- be they print or electronic, on-site or remote- and offers library patrons a variety of personalized services.

What is MetaSearch™?

The MetaSearch technology enables users to conduct federated searching- also known as simultaneous searching, cross-database searching, parallel searching, broadcast searching, and integrated searching. In this type of search process, a user submits a query to numerous information resources. They can be heterogeneous in many respects- for example, their location, the format of the information that they offer, the technologies on which they draw, and the types of materials that they contain. The user's query is broadcast to each resource, and results are returned to the user.

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What are the relationships between Primo and MetaLib? Why would a library need both?

The information universe relevant to library users comprises both local resources, such as the library catalog and digital collections, and remote resources, such as abstracting and indexing databases or e-journal collections. Primo enables discovery of all types of resources by bringing together relevant technologies. While Primo harvests and indexes local data and other harvestable resources through its publishing platform, it enables the discovery of remote resources through metasearching.

For organizations that wish to enable metasearch functionality in Primo, this functionality is provided exclusively by MetaLib. MetaLib serves as the Primo metasearch engine, providing the user with a unified search interface across information resources regardless of type and location. Using Primo, patrons are not forced to use multiple systems with different interfaces to search local and remote resources.

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Does an institution need the ALEPH library system in order to use MetaLib?

No. MetaLib can work with any integrated library system, since MetaLib provides a layer above the institution's system.

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Which interfacing protocols does MetaLib support?

The MetaLib portal uses a variety of access methods to search resources. These methods include, but are not limited to, Z39.50, HTTP, XML gateways, and proprietary APIs. In addition, MetaLib can use OAI-PMH to harvest OAI-compliant repositories so that these repositories can also be searched by MetaLib.

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Which cataloging formats does MetaLib support?

MetaLib supports cataloging formats through configuration tables. Ex Libris has already implemented support for most MARC formats, MAB, Dublin Core, and SUTRS. Other formats can be configured as necessary.

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What is the difference between resources to which a user can link from MetaLib and resources that are searchable by MetaLib?

An institution can offer links to all of its information resources via MetaLib, regardless of the type of resource or its location. MetaLib can search many of those resources- whichever have been configured for this purpose. For some resources, depending on the configuration and the policies of the information provider, MetaLib performs the search but links the user to the native interface of the resource for the display of the result list or the full record details.

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Can an institution define group profiles for use with MetaLib?

Yes. An institution can assign certain attributes to a group and thus provide a specific set of resources and functions to the users who are affiliated with the group.

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Does the SFX component of MetaLib differ from the standalone version of SFX®?

No. The version of SFX that is bundled with MetaLib is fully functional and can provide SFX services for citations originating from any OpenURL-enabled resource.

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How does SFX enhance MetaLib?

Whereas MetaLib handles data discovery functions, SFX provides context-sensitive linking services that typically assist users in obtaining the actual material or expand upon the data already discovered. For instance, the SFX services for an article might provide the article's full text or direct the user to the library's print holdings; additionally, SFX might offer more information about the author (such as citation information or an e-mail address), the topic (such as relevant subject gateways on the Web), and the journal in which the article was published.

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Can an institution customize the MetaLib interface?

Yes. An institution can customize many elements related to the overall look and feel of the HTML-based interface of MetaLib.

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Can an institution configure new resources to be searchable by MetaLib?

Yes. An institution can catalog all of its resources in MetaLib and configure the applicable ones for a MetaLib search.

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What is the difference between MetaLib resources, SFX sources, and SFX targets?

  • MetaLib resources are catalogs, databases, or any electronic source of information that MetaLib users can access, either through a MetaLib search or through links.
  • SFX sources are OpenURL-enabled resources that allow a user to obtain SFX services. MetaLib itself is an SFX source.
  • SFX targets are resources that provide SFX services.

For example, a researcher uses the MetaLib query interface to search PubMed, CSA's Medline, Ovid's BIOSIS, and the Danish National Library of Science and Medicine. These are all MetaLib resources.

MetaLib locates records in all these resources and presents them to the user. As an SFX source, MetaLib assigns an SFX button to each record.

The user clicks the SFX button for a certain record and receives a list of services. Each service links to an SFX target, which can be any Web-based resource or service, such as a document-delivery service, a library system, a union catalog, a citation database, a Web search engine, a drug database, a patent database, or a Web subject-gateway, to name just a few.

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What personalization options does MetaLib offer?

MetaLib provides a number of personalization features. For example, users can

  • Create and save a personal list of relevant resources
  • Save queries for later sessions
  • Catalog findings in a personal "e-Shelf," along with the records' links. The links, including the SFX services, can be invoked at a later time
  • Define "alerts"- queries that run automatically according to a user-defined schedule and notify the user about new findings.

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How can a user save records that are found by searching with MetaLib?

Users have three options for saving records. They can:

  • Save records to disk in any of various formats (including ISI® citation formats- EndNote®, ProCite®, and Reference Manager®)
  • Send records by e-mail
  • Catalog records in a personal "e-Shelf" for future use. The e-Shelf maintains the record's links, which can be invoked at a later time

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Case Study