Metasearch, parallel search, federated search, broadcast search, cross-database search, search portal are a familiar part of the information community's vocabulary. They speak to the need for search and retrieval to span multiple databases, sources, platforms, protocols, and vendors at one time. Metasearch services rely on a variety of approaches to search and retrieval including open standards (such as NISO's Z39.50), proprietary API's, and screen scraping. However, the absence of widely supported standards, best practices, and tools makes the metasearch environment less efficient for the system provider, the content provider, and ultimately the end-user.
To move toward industry solutions NISO sponsored a Metasearch Initiative to enable:
- metasearch service providers to offer more effective and responsive services
- content providers to deliver enhanced content and protect their intellectual property
- libraries to deliver services that distinguish their services from Google and other free web services.