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Module 5: Innovative online library services for 21st Century Librarians (SUM): Federated Search


Federated search is an information retrieval technology that allows the simultaneous search of multiple searchable resources. A user makes a single query request which is distributed to the search engines, databases or other query engines participating in the federation. The federated search then aggregates the results that are received from the search engines for presentation to the user.
This is often a technique to integrate disparate information resources on the web. It can also be a technique to integrate multiple data sources within a large organization or "enterprise."
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What is federated search?

Federated search is the simultaneous search of multiple online databases and is an emerging feature of automated, Web-based library and information retrieval systems. It is also often referred to as a portal, as opposed to simply a Web-based search engine. It is sometime termed as broadcast search, parallel search, cross reference search etc. Various terms are used to refer to these tools in the literature including: metasearchers, cross-searchers, cross-database searchers, portals, broadcast searchers or parallel searchers. The term metasearcher is particularly prominent and is the term adopted by the United States National Information Standards Organization (NISO), which has developed a Metasearch Initiative (NISO, 2003). However as Fryer (2004) explains, the term metasearcher can cause confusion due to its association with web Metasearch engines such as Metacrawler which function in a different way to federated search tools. The term federated searching is the function of search tools, which search a number of databases, particularly subscription databases, simultaneously with one interface. The content searched by federated search tools is content that could not normally be searched via a web search engine.

Kumar, S., Sanaman, G., & Rai, N. (2008). Federated Search: New Option for Libraries in the Digital Era. International CALIBER. Retrieved from

5 Insightful TED Talks on Social Media

Presentation - federated search

What is Federated Search?

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