The Government Printing Office tells us:
The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has released MetaLib <http://metalib.gpo.gov>, a federated search tool that is a service of the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. The initial release of MetaLib contains fifty-three Federal Government databases. Over time, the collection will grow based on recommendations from the GPO MetaLib team as well as public suggestions.
“Metalib” is actually the name of a particular broadcast search product from Ex Libris, that GPO has apparently purchased.
Interesting — and in my opinion terrible — choice to actually advertise and brand the GPO offering using the name of the vendor’s product. What if you later decide to use a different product to try and provide a search accross multiple federal government databases? You’re going to have to change the URL (metalib.gpo.gov), you’re going to have to change the branding, you’re going to confuse users. Why get users thinking of your service as called the name of a particular third party vendor’s product?
At my own place of work, we ran into a little bit of this with SFX, another Ex Libris product. While we branded it with a vendor-neutral name, we still included “sfx” in several places in the link resolver URL. A link resolver URL is even worse, because it’s promulgated to dozens or hundreds of licensed database provider platforms too. It’s really hard to change. Why “hard code” the name of a particular vendor’s product in it? Bad idea. While we are still using SFX as a link resolver knowledge base, when we switched to use Umlaut as a front-end for it, we also took the opportunity to change the URL to not have “sfx” in it (it doesn’t have “umlaut” in it either, that would be a bad idea too!).
On a side topic, GPO seems to be using the stock Metalib interface, which is just awful. I think just about any Metalib service tends to be pretty bad no matter what — and this is probably true of broadcast search services in general, which I consider a neccesary evil of last resort, it’s the best we can often do, but it’s still pretty bad. But if you’re going to use Metalib, you can make the interface a lot better, and probably just about as good as you are going to get a Metalib-provided broadcast search to be, by front-ending it with Xerxes. I don’t think there’s any good reason for any Metalib customers not to be using Xerxes.