Single Search for Library, Archive and Museum Collections

June 21, 2010

The Magnes is participating in the international working group, Single Search for Library, Archive and Museum Collections, led by Günther Weibel of OCLC, along with colleagues from the Victoria & Albert Museum, Yale University, the University of Aberdeen, the Minnesota Historical Society, the University of Calgary, the Getty Research Institute, the Wellcome Trust, and the Smithsonian Institution. The Magnes is represented by Francesco Spagnolo, whose seminal work in archive-library-museum collection access and management integration led to the creation of our online database. 


Users are puzzled that they can search internet resources through a single search engine query, yet the resources of university campuses and cultural heritage institutions are often segregated into a plethora of silos, each with its own dedicated system and search. The aspiration of rationalizing search across rare and unique materials of institutional library, archive and museum (LAM) collections surfaced as a central concern at all five Beyond the Silos of the LAMs workshops, and in many subsequent presentations, events and interactions with the RLG Partnership.

Institutions large and small are starting to ask questions about how to optimally present their audience with the breadth of resources locally available. A recent OCLC Research webinar presented emerging practices in the local aggregation of LAM collections, with a particular emphasis on successful strategies and dead ends in the quest for single search. The webinar demonstrated that at this point in time, enough single search systems have emerged, and enough experience has accumulated, to allow us to take a step back and synthesize the hard lessons for the next phase of implementers.


This activity will lay the foundations for an informal network of LAM single search practitioners so they can support each other by sharing insights and strategies. The report from the working group will lay out guidance for successful implementations of single search for a local aggregation of LAM collections.

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