When selectors are evaluating electronic content providers, they may or may not consider some of the more technical issues that can end up plaguing those of us working to make library services work well in a unified way for our users–and thus plaguing our users too.
Do any of my readers have standard questions to ask potential content providers, or ways of evaluating them on more technical grounds? What do your libraries do to try to ensure content providers have the technical infrastructure we need, or to pressure them to get it? If the people with the primary responsibility for selecting don’t neccesarily have the technical background to understand/evaluate these things—then what, what’s your ‘workflow’ here?
Here is a sketched out draft of questions I came up with to ask content providers prior to signing a contract, specifically related to link resolver and federated search products I work with–although the issues related to federated search pretty much carry over to other fancy ‘2.0’ things too. Would appreciate any feedback.
1. Will the service generate outgoing OpenURL links to our OpenURL link resolver?
- For all hits?
For some subset? (Describe)
2. Is it possible to generate article-level ‘deep links’ into the service?
- As an OpenURL formatted URL?
- Other proprietary format of url?
- Only some articles?
- 2a. What can these article-level deep links point to?
- Full text PDF
- Full text HTML
- Article abstract/metadata page
- All of the above, at the clients choice?
- 2b. Is the Ex Libris SFX product set up to work with your service, generating article-level deep links to it?
3. Can the service be used with ‘broadcast search’ federated search products like Ex Libris Metalib?
- Via Z39.50?
Via other standard protocol (eg SRU)?
Via custom/proprietary XML HTTP protocol?
- 3a. Is _all_ article metadata which is displayed via native interface also delivered via this protocol? If not, what is left out?
- 3b. Is Ex Libris Metalib specifically set up to search the service?
- 3c. Especially if z39.50, what is your server’s typical response time? [Many vendors z39.50 services are ridiculously slow].
4. If the service provides other services than ‘search’, are these services made available through some machine-accessible API?