I just got back from SLA in Seattle, Washington and the conference was great! There are so many ideas that I have brought back and am planning on working with so I thought I would share some of them with you. The first is what Metalib and EBSCO allow us to accomplish, as librarians, when trying to create toolbar applications that search like Google.
When you run a search in Metalib for about 5-10 seconds a persistent URL will appear in the search box of your browser. You can do this for either individual databases, or the federated searches that Metalib provides. If you want to automate that search you need to copy it before it changes to a session URL. You can then of course automate it like I explain in this post.
The advantage here is that there are a large number of databases that Metalib can search through that use non-persistent URLs. The downside is that researchers may be used to specific interfaces. With the OU toolbars searches to a database that can only be accessed via Metalib use Metalib, but if the search box is left blank the toolbar goes to the native interface. Then through instruction I make sure to teach researchers which databases are wired for Metalib.
EBSCO has an option built into it where you can select multiple databases that you want to search. After running a search you can either check the persistent link to the search or add the search to your search folder (either is a persistent URL). When you select multiple databases you can extract a persistent search that covers many databases. So now we can set up searches for toolbars that are federated searches for EBSCO (for whichever databases you want to use).