What Is Hein Up To?

Hello folks

We just got an email press release from Hein today announcing its partnership with Serials Solutions.

The press release is here:

I wonder what Hein means when it says:
“William S. Hein & Co., Inc. announces the availability of the first direct and authorized federated search connection”…

I could be wrong here, but I think they are trying to suggest to us that perhaps our digging into Hein collections by any other federated search would be “unauthorized”.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the mere suggestion irritates me. How else are library users supposed to know what’s available to them in online aggregators? This really suggests to me a lack of appreciation for how integral a federated search can be for today’s library.

Wikipedia: “Federated search is the simultaneous search of multiple online databases and is an emerging feature of automated, Web-based library and information retrieval systems.”

Federated searches work within a broad array of online collections. This is their only function. A federated search has to work between multiple products so that users can see what articles are available among the library’s many online collections. The mere suggestion that each individual product should have its own “authorized” federated search is counter-intuitive. The idea just completely defeats the purpose, and can’t be called a federated search. If Hein wants to beef up its searching and results displaying functions – please do it by all means, but it bothers me that they are trying to steer us towards using Serials Solutions which seems, by these shenanigans, to be trying to get its foot in the door by selling this notion of “authorized search”.

In my opinion, it also impugns the integrity of plenty of other library finding tools – even the OPAC to a certain extent is evolving into a tool to help us find content in the collections we’ve already paid for.

In what other context are libraries asked to pay for the journal plus the right to turn its pages?


  1. Dear Ms. Demmer,

    By no means are we suggesting that ‘digging into Hein collections by any other federated search would be “unauthorized”’. We are however very concerned that customers who use federated search tools to search HeinOnline are obtaining the most complete and accurate results. This is why we have been working with federated search vendors, such as Serials Solutions, to make sure that their search connectors to HeinOnline databases work properly. Please see our blog posting from October 8, 2007 .

    The purpose of our announcement was not to sell Serials Solutions or any other federated search product but rather to let our users know that Serials Solutions is one of the first federated search engines we have tested which we have confidence in providing accurate and complete search results. If our communication was misleading we apologize, perhaps we should have used the words “first approved” rather than “first authorized”. In reality, we would much prefer that everyone use the native search functions within HeinOnline rather than having them filtered through a federated search engine. We do however very much appreciate that libraries need to use tools like federated search to help their patrons locate the many resources that librarians make available to them. Unfortunately, federated search engines do not always properly pass the search arguments to or accurately receive the results from the native database. In many cases this presents the user with inaccurate or incomplete results. We have spent a great deal of time and money and will continue to do so making sure HeinOnline will work well with federated search engines because we know how important they are to the library community.

    We also understand the importance of the library OPAC and other finding tools to locate content in the library and to that end we have made available the HeinOnline Cataloging Aid available at: http://washburnlaw.edu/heinonline/. In addition we provide free of charge complete MARC records for our Legal Classics Collection as well as machine readable lists of titles for each HeinOnline library.

    I really do believe our intentions are in line with your concerns. We want to make sure that you and your patrons are obtaining the best information possible when using online resources such as HeinOnline. I am sorry if we implied anything else with our announcement.

    I would be happy to discuss this with you further.


    Daniel Rosati
    William S. Hein & Co., Inc.