OCLC, the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, and the University of Washington Information School have received a $100,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to plan a librarian-recommendation-weighted search engine called Reference Extract.
Here's an excerpt from the press release:
"Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the most powerful," said Dr. Mike Eisenberg, Dean Emeritus and Professor at the Information School of the University of Washington and a lead on the project. "The best search engines are great for basic search, but sometimes the Web site results lack credibility in terms of trust, accuracy and reliability. So, who can help? Librarians. If a librarian recommends a Web site, you can be pretty sure that it's credible. RefEx will take hundreds of thousands of librarian recommendations and use them in a full-scale search engine."
Reference Extract is envisioned as a Web search experience similar to those provided by the world's most popular search engines. However, unlike other search engines, Reference Extract will be built for maximum credibility of search results by relying on the expertise of librarians. Users will enter a search term and receive results weighted toward sites most often used by librarians at institutions such as the Library of Congress, the University of Washington, the State Library of Maryland, and over 2,000 other libraries worldwide.
As part of the planning process, participants are reaching out to partners in libraries, technology organizations and research institutions. "The only way this will work is by making a project of an entire community," said Dr. R. David Lankes, Director of the Information Institute of Syracuse and Associate Professor at Syracuse University's School of Information Studies. "Web searchers get to tap into the incredible skill and knowledge of the library community, while librarians will be able to serve users on a whole new scale. This work follows on previous credibility work supported by the MacArthur Foundation, most notably the Credibility Commons (http://credibilitycommons.org/)." . . .
The Reference Extract project will hold a series of meetings and consultations over the coming months. The team is eager to build a business plan and technology architecture to benefit users and the library community alike. Those interested in providing input on the project and learning more can visit the project Web site at http://digref.org.