The concept of Reference Extract is to build a credible specialized search engine based on the concept of "Reference Authoring."

Digital Reference is Different

Digital reference is not just reference interviews online. The main difference is the production of a “reference artifact.� In all reference a user works with an intermediary (librarian or content expert) to determine an information need and the context of this information need (together - the question). In all reference transaction the intermediary marshals and combines some range of resources (a book, a set of citations, a URL, a verbal response based on their personal expertise) to fulfill this information need (an answer). In face-to-face reference this is done verbally, and the answer literally evaporates after the transaction. All that is left is a memory of the conversation and possibly a check or two on a piece of paper. In digital reference, however, the entirety of the transaction is retained by default. In face-to-face reference work must be done to retain the transaction (it must be recorded, or written down...action must occur), whereas in digital reference the opposite is true (the e-mail must be deleted, the database purged). This may seem like a small difference at first, but it is critical. With a record of a transaction a knowledge base can be created, pathfinders authored, training can occur with real data, etc. This use of digital reference output is called reference authoring.

Reference Extract uses two distinct reference authoring products. The first, or default search, is to directly search digital reference output in the form of question/answer archives. The second, or the expanded search, uses a very different approach.

Reference Directed Crawling

When you expand a search in Reference Extract you are searching web pages cited in digital reference answers. In particular, URL's cited in answers from the AskNSDL, and Virtual Reference Desk service. We've extracted all of these URLs, and crawled them so you can search on them. These pages are not created by digital reference services, but they are pointed to by digital reference services. To be sure, these sites conform to different quality standards, and thus we've made the decision to search these services yours.

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