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Planning for MetaLib

Under the aegis of the University Library's Office for Information Systems (OIS), planning is now under way for the implementation of MetaLib as the University's next-generation research portal. The goal is to provide significant enhancements to the functionality of the present portal, known as the Harvard Libraries web site, at

Developed by Ex Libris, MetaLib is a commercial library portal and federated searching tool that provides a standardized user interface and customizable front end to a wide variety of information resources. MetaLib is a powerful tool for simultaneous or cross searching across a number of resources, including HOLLIS and other Harvard library catalogs, research databases, electronic journal collections, image resources, and more. Personalization features include the creation of individual lists of searchable resources, saved files of documents, search histories, and alerts. Both policy and technical considerations will determine the implementation of specific MetaLib functionality at Harvard. While the current Harvard Cross-Catalog Search allows simultaneous searching of several Harvard library catalogs, it is based on a much earlier version of the MetaLib software. Feedback from the use of this system indicated a strong desire to be able to search research databases and other external resources, together with the Harvard library catalogs. Accordingly, in March 2003, the University Library Council (ULC) approved the MetaLib project. A MetaLib Working Group, reporting to the ULC's Public Services Committee, began its work in June 2003. The current target date for implementation is June 2004. Sub-teams of the Working Group will address major issues such as content, metadata, and user interface.

A MetaLib project web site is available at Information on the site includes a system overview; membership of the MetaLib Working Group and its sub-teams; project documents; links to resources about portals and federated searching; presentations about MetaLib; and links to production and test implementations at other sites.

OIS initiated a series of open library meetings on the MetaLib project at Harvard late in the summer. Further meetings will be scheduled as work progresses. Questions can be addressed to any member of the MetaLib Working Group.

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Last modified on Monday, November 17, 2003.