Lorcan has a long posting about metasearch on his weblog and a comment by Judith Pearce, of the National Library of Australia asking questions about the role of fielded searching. An associated question that I've seen in some of NLA's papers is the role of controlled vocabularies. Since these questions get to the heart of what the OCLC's metadata services, this is important to us. In addition to a few opinions, I've actually been doing some experimentation that addresses some of the issues.
First some opinions.
- Everyone would rather not deal with fielded searching, if they can avoid it
- You can't avoid it, at least not always
- Controlled vocabularies help
- Centralized systems work better
- Retrieval systems need ranking
- Speed counts