As I’ve been speaking to other institutions both here in Australia and overseas I’ve started to realise that more of us should be using Opensearch to allow others (or ourselves) to aggregate our deep content – whilst still retaining full control of said content.
I blogged about this ages ago but I think everyone was caught up in getting their collections online and searchable to begin with.
The library sector has been debating its implementation for a while and their arguments for and against Opensearch are covered here.
OpenSearch is . . . a discovery mechanism. It allows a site to quickly expose vast amounts of data to end users in a detailed enough format that it elicits click-throughs. It is a way for end users to search a variety of sources, and source types, and to quickly grab the useful bits from each source, and to dig deeper for more detail when they find something of interest.
More to the point, though, since everyone must implement their opensearch results in exactly the same way every OpenSearch source is guaranteed to work with every OpenSearch client. Instant interoperability.
Now with both Firefox 2.0 and IE7 supporting Opensearch there really is no reason not to.
Imagine if your collection or your deep/dark web databases that you have already connected up to your website could be easily searched by a centralised search portal? And any interested searchers who clicked on a result would be redirected immediately to your site? And you didn’t need to implement anything complicated to make this possible?
Here is a very simple tutorial for a standard website.
Here is the Powerhouse Museum’s collection search for ‘chair’ delivered via the A9 portal.
And here is the raw XML result which anyone can aggregate to their site (allowing others to deliver traffic back to us).
If you have multiple databases on your site that all have their own esoteric search engines, then you could create your own cross database search simply by creating a Opensearch feed for each and then a search page that aggregates each feed.
If you DO add Opensearch to your site then please tell us!