Zepheira completes prototype for ‘Reference Extract,’ with funding by The MacArthur Foundation

In 2010 The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded $350,000 to fund researchers and developers from OCLC, the information schools of Syracuse University and the University of Washington and Zepheira LLC to develop a pilot of a ‘credibility engine,’ a system that supports augmenting Web searches with measures of credibility derived from the unique experience and expertise of librarians worldwide. This work is the prototype phase of the QuestionPoint collaborative virtual reference service, in which librarians answer patron requests for credible information on particular topics through an interactive interface. The presentation also included a demonstration of the Reference Extract prototype in action, which is also available as a screencast.

Zepheira, OCLC and the participating universities will continue to investigate how best to evolve the prototype into a sustainable service long-term.

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