Externalizing search

Art Rhyno continues his interesting series on the inadvertent gifts of recent Google developments. He wonders:

… if library systems can offload a lot of the indexing work that our current applications sweat so hard to achieve. Both Apple and Microsoft have poured significant resources into making their next generation of operating systems index as much content as a drive can hold, and even a large library’s collection of metadata is not beyond the realm of handing out to every patron in the user community. If it can be kept up to date on the network without a lot of overhead, maybe some catalogue searching can be carried out by third party tools. This won’t replace the OPAC, at least not yet, but maybe it could allow some scarce resources to be put towards the authentication and rights management hooks that will be needed as widely accessible systems start exposing more licensed content. [Inadvertent Gifts pt.3]

Externalising search to third party tools is interesting. What appears to be discussed here is externalizing to local third party tools, but it is also interesting to think about externalizing to external third parties such as Google, Yahoo or OAI service providers. I talk about this in the Three stages of library search. The future of search is likely to be one in which there are several options, to better serve the variety of ways in which people look for things.