Some email ideas for library use – LibX and Xobni

Haven’t had much time to blog this weekend, as I was busy running a pilot survey for my Phd (more about that in the future), but I will just share 2 wild/random ideas I have about email.

Gmail and LibX

In my last post, I talked about how LibX is very useful, for acquisitions work, in particular how it can do autolinking of isbns.

“Any page with an isbn is recognized and converted into a clickable link. Clicking on it will do a search of your library catalogue. It even searches related isbns (different publishers, different editions) if your opac supports that or lists related isbns in a sidebar that you can search with another click if your opac doesn’t.”

Say you subscribe to various book alerts like Blackwell collection manager’s enotes, and they send you attachments (rtf, doc) in email. On receiving them, you would like to click on the ibsns given in those attachments to do a direct ISBN search of your catalogue, but unfortunately the Libx autolinking of isbns works only with actual webpages, so getting them in rtf, doc format doesn’t help.

What’s the solution? What you can do is to subscribe to those mails in your gmail account, then when the mail arrives click on “view as html”, which will open the document as a html page.

Why do so? Simple, so LibX can work its magic.

Now just click on the isbn and you can do a isbn check of your OPAC!

Want to buy the item? Just copy and paste to your email (rtf or html format) and send it to the acquisitions department, and the acquisitions department staff can verify again by clicking on the link (Why do they need to double check if you checked it already? One reason is that between the time you checked the catalogue and sent the email and the time they received and processed it, they might have ordered it for someone else already)

Google’s “view in html” works for not just Word documents but also excel, pdf, ppt etc. A common thing often done is to search for a bunch of items from your integrated library system (ILS) using a certain search criteria (say all items catalogued last year and circulated at least 5 times), then export the results (which will almost always include isbn or Marc field 020) into excel. But if you want to look at those items you would have to manually cut and paste the isbn etc into your opac to search.

Instead, email it to gmail, then use the same trick above, and you will see all the isbns are links already!

Another interesting option would be to view/convert such documents in Google docs or one of their competitors (Zoho, Buzzword, etc), since they are web-based with the corresponding benefits.

In fact, besides the LibX functions there are several functions that are accessible only when viewed in html, these include IE 8’s web accelerators, various Firefox addons that add searches to the context menu etc, so viewing a document in html can actually be quite useful.

Use Xobni for tracking email

Many libraries use a Outlook account to handle user queries. By using Xobni (Inbox spelled backwards) a free plugin, one can access Xobni analytics, which helps to quickly answer the following questions.

In terms of mail volume, when are your users emailing you. How many percent of them email you during the weekend? How many percent do it after office hours? Does mail volume vary across the year?

In terms of response speed, what is your libraries’ median response time to a mail? Does this vary much by hours? (Typically it does, mail received before office hours say 7 am obviously have a slower response time). Does this vary by day of week or across the year? (Again it is obvious response time is typically slower during week-ends if the account isn’t manned those times). Are you meeting your service level targets?

You can filter results by person, subject, domain, folder, context and more

All this is very helpful to decision making, for example if you find a spike in emails received after midnight say during April (just before assignments are due?), you might consider setting up a night shift to answer emails during this period?

Is your response time noticeably slower for certain questions? Particularly, you might find a class of questions that are commonly received say after office hours or on friday nights and which require answers that cannot wait until office hour begins… Which could be a source of dissatisfaction.

Xobni also has Facebook, Linkedin and Skype integration. With many libraries establishing a presence in Facebook, (even Library of Congress has one!) due to the rapid rise in popularity of Facebook and a smaller number providing support via Skype, Xobni is the ideal tool. For instance, a user emails you to ask a question, use Xobni to instantly offer to “Friend” him with your Library’s Facebook account.

Or instantly find his skype account and communicate with him via Skype.

Note : There might be privacy concerns if you use Linkedin, Facebook related features.

Conclusion

That’s all for this week. I hope you found some of the tips here useful. BTW, my blog is now 6 months ago (it’s genesis dates back to 24 Feb 2009) , would like to thank readers for their comments and interest.

Using library 2.0 tools for technical services

Technical services in libraries which encompasses back-room work like acquisitions, document delivery and cataloging are often deemed as the less ‘sexy’ part of librarianship.

Yet, satisfying and even delighting library patrons depends critically on having an efficient and effective technical services departments which explains why many libraries are embarking on projects to streamline and improve their services. While the biggest gains probably come from radical redesign, some gains can be gotten from minor changes. In this post I will share some ideas to do that.

Librarians have being introducing tools like Libx toolbars, opensearch plugins, bookmarklets greasemonkey scripts (ezproxy script, amazon script) etc but the focus always seems to be for library users.

But it occurs to me that such tools are even more effective for technical services work.

Libx for instance automatically converts any isbn on a page to a clickable link, and clicking on it will do a xisbn search (it searches not just the given isbn, but also related isbns) of the item in your catalogue. While this is no doubt useful to users, one suspects that a typical library staff assigned to say acquisitions would use this dozens if not hundreds of times in the course of his/her work for checking orders that come in. Though each use saves them probably 5 seconds (not to mention reduces errors), the time savings can add up when they process thousands of books a year.

Another advantage of using opensearch plugins or Libx toolbar in technical services is that they can serve as a pilot, before you push it out to users!

Opensearch plugins

Obvious idea, add opensearch plugins for sites you use often for cataloguing, purchasing etc. This could be anything from your own library catalogue to other libraries like British Library, Book vendors, jobbers (Amazon, Blackwell books, Bookfinder, BookData Online etc)that do not support z39.50

You can also add sites that handle journal abbreviations such as JAbbr etc.

This is particularly effective if you need to do the same search a dozen times across different sites.

Say for instance, you need to process a request for document delivery. You need to

1. Check if the article exists in your collection and if not
2. Check your vendors to see if they have it to place an order.

Let’s assume you don’t have a openurl resolver and you need to manually check the source title against your OPAC.

Set up, the opensearch plugins for your library opac and other vendors/libraries you use in Internet explorer 7 or 8 or Firefox. (Tip : Add to searchbar Firefox addon makes adding new search providers a snap in Firefox)

Copy and paste, the source title (issn would be better, but most users don’t give you that), into the searchbox and then select your library search. After checking it doesn’t exist, you then click on the pull down button again and select the vendor you are checking (e.g. CISTI). The search results will appear.

If they don’t have it, continue with the other vendors down the list.

Notice how you don’t have to cut and paste the same search manually several times, just select another search provider and the search is run! Internet Explorer 7 is pretty handy in the way it handles opensearch because the search is automatically run with the terms in the searchbar whenever you change search providers.

You might notice that I’m actually using Firefox in the video. Firefox users who want to achieve the same effect should install “search on engine change” addon.

There are various other firefox addons that allow you to do even more interesting stuff, in particular you can do a search such that it searches the same term across several search providers opening a new tab for each.

Try Firefox search sidebar (search several search providers at one time) , searchwith (adding searches to your context menu) to search multi-servives at one time. This is a very cheap method to achieve a poor man’s federated search.

Install Libx

The Libx toolbar has a host of useful functions. But probably the most useful one of all would be the autolinking of isbns. Any page with an isbn is recognized and converted into a clickable link. Clicking on it will do a search of your library catalogue. It even searches related isbns (different publishers, different editions) if your opac supports that or lists related isbns in a sidebar that you can search with another click if your opac doesn’t.

Say you get a book order for a certain title. You typically search your catalogue first to see if the book already exists, then they search vendor sites to look for pricing, availability etc.

If you combine* the use of Libx and opensearch, you have two choices.

1. Use opensearch to search your catalogue (by title probably, isbn usually isn’t given but even if it is you probably want to check for hardback, paperback editions) then search the vendor the site. Then you can double check that the book doesn’t exist in your collection by clicking on the isbn given on the vendor site.

2. Use opensearch to search a commonly used vendor first , then click on the given isbn which brings you to the opac search of that isbn and related isbn.

#2 looks better to me. In particularly since it shows related isbn searches (american vs british publishers, paperback/hardback even different editions etc).

Using Googledocs for book orders

Did you know you can use Googledocs to create simple forms? The data will be automatically added to a spreadsheet. The Unquietlibrary uses this to create a simple form created this way for processing book orders.

How about using googledocs has a form for reporting problems with electronic resources that are down?

Using wikis to inform of cataloging subject heading changes

Rather than having a meeting to discuss the changes or additions, as we have in the past, one of the cataloguers suggested we add this information to the wiki. As each cataloguer has a chance to read the bulletin, they can add to the list of new, changed or old subject headings.

The cataloguing librarian

Other ideas

Incidentally, my love affair with all things library 2.0 began while I was embarking on a project to streamline technical services, so I have a soft spot for such ideas. Are there other interesting creative ways technical services staff are using web 2.0 in your library? I’m interested in hearing about it.

* Why not use Libx alone? While Libx allows you to add library catalogues, support of other searches are limited compared to opensearch plugins.

Adding ezproxy to the url – 5 different methods

Many libraries in the world provide remote access to electronic resources via EZproxy .

As Andrew Perry explains here

“Essentially, Ezproxy uses some URL mangling, rewriting all hyperlinks, to pass traffic via the proxy (rather than using a conventional browser proxy setting). If the user is not logged in to the proxy (ie has no fresh & valid cookie), a login screen is given before being forwarded to the journal site.”

In the case of NUS Libraries, a user visiting http://www.springerlink.com/content/j187567w723h43m4 will not be able to logged in via NUS Libraries and hence cannot access full text. However if he accesses the same link with the extra string in red appended http://www.springerlink.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/content/j187567w723h43m4/ , he will be accessing the page via NUS Libraries and hence will have full text access.

While links from our library portal will typically have being specially treated to include the string in red, in today’s world, a user is more than likely to stumble upon a journal vendor site from some outside source that did not rewrite the link (e.g. Blogs, forums, web search engine results). As a result, users will not be able to access the full-text article.

This is particularly so for users using Google or Google scholar. Ideally if everyone was linking using openurl (which google scholar does) and every library had a openurl resolver (not all have) things would be a lot easier (besides being a much superior method for being certain whether a library has access if the same article can be found in different sources/vendor platforms) but ….. In any case, this post assumes that linking via Openurl has not occured and one is dealing with a simple link to a specific vendor url.

In such cases, one can always manually add the string “.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg” to the url just after the domain name but clever librarians have come up with many ingenous ways to speed things up.

Some methods that can be used include

1. Bookmarklet
2. Libx
3. Greasemonkey
4. Zotero
5 Others



Use of bookmarklet

This is perhaps the most commonly used method. For this to work, one installs a bookmarklet into the browser. Clicking on the bookmarklet will automatically append the needed ezproxy portion of the url into whatever url the user is on, hence allowing him to access the resource.

Example : NUS Library bookmarklet

Pros

Lightweight, works on most browsers.

Cons

The bookmarklet can only work retrospectively, after the user is already on the url. In most cases, as the user is initially not authenticated via EZproxy, the page shown will be the public page. Clicking on the bookmarklet will then convert the page into the subscribed version. Unfortunately, some vendors will detect that you are not authorized to access the page and redirect the page to a generic error page. Obviously, clicking on the bookmarklet now, would be futile. Vendors that do this include Web of Science and Scopus?.

Also certain vendor sites (Wiley-blackwell is one) will report errors with cookies, when using the bookmarklet. The only way around these problems would be to convert the url on the fly before even hitting the page (Which the Greasemonkey script, Libx and Zotero do).

Libx toolbar

As I covered in a past post , Libx toolbar is a specialized custom toolbar that libraries can offer to their users to help enhance access to their collections. Among the many functions of Libx is the ability to support the use of EZproxy. This is done via two methods

1. When the user is already on the page.

Similar to the bookmarklet method, when the user is on a page that he is unable to access, he can right click and select the option “Reload samplepage.com via Library proxy”, and this will automatically reload the page he is on, with the ezproxy built in.

2. Prior to visiting the page.

Alternatively, before even hitting the page, he can right click on the link and select “go to samplepage.com via Library proxy”. This can be helpful in avoiding the situation mentioned above with vendors redirecting to generic error pages.

Example : NUS Libx toolbar demo

Pros

Because one can rewrite the url link , before even visting the url, this avoids the problem mentioned above with vendors redirecting to generic error pages. Also Libx supports both main browsers Firefox and Internet Explorer, although the bookmarklet supports more browsers.

Con

Libx adds a ton of features, and is probably overkill, if all you want is just some way to add support to exproxy. It is of course possible to create a small simple Firefox addon that does just these functions, for instance recently I discovered this from way back in 2005!

Using Greasemonkey script
Greasemonkey is a Firefox addon that allows users to dynamically rewrite webpages. It is possible to create a greasemonkey script that will on selected domains (which user can add) rewrite outgoing urls to work with ezproxy.

Example : Greasemonkey script demo (NUS libraries) , Script originally from Andrew Perry

Pros

Unlike using bookmarklets or Libx, once configured properly, outgoing links will be automatically rewritten. Users save time, because they don’t have to click on the bookmarklet or right click and select context menu etc for it to work everytime you go to Jstor via Google scholar. You can also add more domains into the list.

Cons

Greasemonkey is Firefox only, though Internet explorer users might try it with greasemonkey with IE.

Once a domain is added, all outgoing links will be converted. This can cause problems in some instances. For example, one can’t simply add http://scholar.google.com* and hope to convert all Google scholar links, because the next page button doesn’t work then!

Zotero

Zotero is a well known opensource citation manager that runs as a Firefox add-on. It has tons of powerful features. However the latest 1.5 beta adds automatic proxy support

When I first read about it, I thought it worked like Libx‘s. But I was wrong, it’s far cleverer.

It works as follows, the first time you visit any url via ezproxy, Zotero will popup the following dialog box.

There isn’t much detail on how it works. But here’s my understanding, if you click “add proxy”, Zotero will silently track any urls that use ezproxy, and automatically create pattern matching rules so that similar urls to the same domain will be converted as well.

For instance if you visit http://www.springerlink.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/content/j187567w723h43m4/ for the first time, Zotero will notice that you are using a proxy to access Springerlink.com. If you click “Add proxy”, two things will happen

1) In the future whenever you go to any link that has springerlink.com in it, libproxy1.nus.edu.sg will be automatically appended.

2) In addition, you are not just restricted to Springer. if you next visit say JSTOR at http://www.jstor.org.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/action/doBasicSearch?Query=stated+preference&wc=on&dc=All+Disciplines , Zotero will silently learn (no prompt) about JSTOR links as well, so again in the future similar links to JSTOR urls will be converted.
The more vendor sites you visit via ezproxy, the more Zotero learns about which links (based on domain) should be converted. All this works transparently, the user does not need to do any work at all!

In short, what you have here is a simple autolearning system, that automatically learns what urls should be converted and appends the needed string!

Pros

Very user friendly. Domains that should be converted to use with ezproxy are automatically added without intervention by user. Once Zotero has learnt that certain url from a domain should be passed through Ezproxy, it will work automatically, saving time compared to using bookmarklets or Libx.

Do note that Zotero proactively converts recognized urls similarly to greasemonkey, so it works fine with links to Web of Science or Wiley unlike using bookmarklets. Unlike greasemonkey script it selectively converts only recognized urls, rather than all urls on the page, so it works great with say Google scholar and there is less chance of problems.

Cons

Unfortunately, Zotero is Firefox only add-on, so users using other browsers are out of luck.

Also though Zotero automatically recognises urls that require the ezproxy string to be added, it does not itself add the ezproxy string when you first visit a domain it doesn’t recognize.

One can of course combine methods. Use any of the earlier methods to append the ezproxy string to any new domains not yet recognized by Zotero, and the next time when you visit links in those domains, Zotero will kick in and work automatically.

In particular, given that both Zotero and Libx are opensource tools that are popular with users of Firefox, many librarians have began to recommend the use of both . So use the later to append the ezproxy string to unrecognized domains for Zotero to learn.

Conclusion

These are only some methods that can be used to append the ezproxy string. No doubt there are some other methods (e.g. other Firefox add-ons such as redirector and quieturl). Update 21/4/09 : The 5th method is courtesy of a library user from my institution. He uses shortcut typing tools and recommends the following typinator, textexpander (os x); fastfox, phrase express (pc).  These tools allow you to type a letter or two and expand it into a whole phrase, like a macro.

Overall I think Zotero‘s method is the smartest and easiest way to solve the problem of automatically adding the ezproxy string. It might even be worth installing it alone for this feature, if you constantly find yourself needing this feature.

Do note that if you append the ezproxy string and you still don’t have access, it doesn’t necessarily mean your library does not have access to that article. It is possible that you can still access the same article via another vendor or site.

Opensearch vs custom toolbar vs smart keyword vs bookmarklet (III)

In a previous post, I discussed the different ways, one can add support to searching OPAC and other library subscribed databases. The four methods were Opensearch plugins , custom toolbars (Conduit toolbar , Google toolbar , Libx) , Smart keyword searches and Search bookmarklets

I already discussed opensearch here, in this post I will discuss the three custom toolbars I’m most familiar with Conduit toolbar , Google toolbar , and Libx. See a partial list of  libraries using custom toolbars.

Introduction

There are one or two papers written on the idea of using custom toolbars for library use.

I guess most are familiar with the idea of toolbars, which I think were popularized by Google and their Google toolbar (see below for a customized version that supports JSTOR and Scopus).

These toolbars add a searchbar to your browser which allows users to search various websites without visiting the site first.

They also added various features to aid searching (e.g. highlight of search terms), useful functions (e.g. translation of webpages).

Later toolbars added subscription to RSS feeds, ability to add widgets etc. See list of Google toolbar features and Conduit toolbar features for an idea of what they provide.

For our purposes, the most important feature is that the later toolbars allowed you to add  custom searches to any database you chose. This means you can add searches to your OPAC, to JSTOR, Scopus (with ezproxy built-in).

In the image above, you can enter the search term “Singapore river”, click on either the Scopus or JSTOR button, and you will be brought to the search results page of either Scopus or JSTOR (you need to log-in through ezproxy) .

There are quite a few custom toolbars you can use, I will cover only the three I am most familar with.

Conduit toolbar

Conduit toolbar is designed to “enable you to deliver one–to–one personalized information and messages to individual users via custom components.”

It is highly customizable (logos etc), designed to create a custom toolbar “built around your community”. Besides adding custom searches you can

  • Setup RSS feeds of your library blogs or library related blogs
  • Setup “scrolling news-tickers” – for your library announcements
  • Send instant messages to all users who installed your toolbar
  • Common chatroom for all users who installed the toolbars
  • Add custom widgets (think meebo widgets or any library widgets you have created)
  • A highlight button that will highlight search terms
  • Copy text and it will be sent directly to your searchbar
  • Keep track of number of installs to track impact you are making etc..
  • A lot more…

The amazing librarian Guus van den Brekel from Netherlands is probably the biggest advocate of using Conduit toolbars. Here are some of his creations. You can do a lot of additional tricks with Conduit toolbars including creating search widgets but that is probably another whole post.

Many libraries have used Conduit toolbars, here’s a paper about one libraries’ experience. (subscription needed).

Here’s one I toyed with for my Economics community. 100% experimental

It has searches setup to common Economics database, our catalogue, as well as a custom economics search I setup for various Economics websites. Bookmarks built-in are to links in my Economics subject guide. There are various RSS feeds including to new Economics additions to the catalogue (via screenscraper) etc.

Creating and customizing the toolbar is a breeze, it’s all point and click, drag and drop etc. No programming required! See some of the screenshots below.

Pros

1. Extremely customizable, huge feature set.

Compared to say Google toolbar or Libx, the toolbar is meant to be rebranded and hence is totally customizable, you can add as many bells and whistles as you wish, put them in any order you wish etc.

I personally find Conduit features more appealing than Google toolbar’s though Libx being a specialized built for Library application has some features that Conduit cannot match (see later).

For example, while one can search each customized database as per normal, one also gets the option to do a search comparison, which adds frame at the top of results.  (see below)

Clicking on say Scopus above, will give you the same search but for Scopus. Do note that some database vendors might frown on framing their site!

2. Support for older IE browsers as well as Firefox.

As mentioned in an earlier post, compared to Opensearch, Conduit toolbars work for IE 6 and not just IE 7.

3. Supports POST method for both IE and Firefox.

Again as mentioned in an earlier post, this is much better than Opensearch method, since Opensearch using POST method does not work in IE7/8.

Cons

1. Creates additional toolbar for browsers that already have default searchbars.

Confuses users who already have a default searchbar in IE 7 or Firefox.

2. Possible privacy issues and additional technical problems

There has being a some debate (e.g. here and here) in the past by librarians about the merits of Conduit toolbar versus Libx (which is newer), but it is acknowledged that Conduit adds sponsored results in your default google search and worse yet every click you make is sent to Conduit. Potentially they could track you. There has also being some past history with spyware, but this is no longer an issue, but some antispyware programs might continue to consider it suspicious and lead to technical support problems.

Opensearch plugins is far cleaner, and have less potential for causing technical problems.

3. Each toolbar cannot be customized per user.

All users of the same toolbar will have the exact same features. Everything is centrally controlled. If I add a new RSS feed, or a new custom search, all users of that toolbar will be pushed the same update and will have the same features. Unlike opensearch plugins, you can’t offer a buffet of custom searchs for users to mix and match.

A tech savvy user also can’t create his own custom searches.

LibX

I almost left this out (for reasons I will explain later), but added it back in, because this is a special build for Library toolbar. As be-fits a specialized library product it supports the following specialized functions

  1. Allows advanced searches of Opacs
  2. Hotlinking of ISBN/ISSN/DOI/PubmedIDs – clicking on them gives you the appropriate search/link.
  3. Adaptive context menu – If you highlight a ISBN, it will offer a ISBN search option of your catalogue etc.
  4. Search for OpenURL providers
  5. Others – webcues, Google scholar “magic button”, Ezproxy support, support for COINS, xISBN and more

Libx is quite popular, currently (April 2008), there are 579 versions of Libx created according to their homepage. Several papers have being written on Libx (See here – subscription required )  . Below is an example of a Libx toolbar I was playing with.

Creating Libx toolbars is quite easy, comparable to creating conduit toolbars. Just fill in the details you need in the web forms (see below).

Pros

1. Support of both IE 6+ and Firefox.

Same as Conduit toolbar.

2.Interesting feature set.

I love the library related features like xisbn support, openurl support, hotlinks of Isbns, dois etc

3. Less privacy concerns

Unlike the above mentioned conduit, Libx does not track clicks of users, does not track usage levels etc. As far as I know Libx does not “phone home” at all, if you turn off the feature that checks for new additional remote web cues.

Cons

1.    Creates additional toolbar for browsers that already have default searchbars.

Same as conduit toolbar.

2. Each toolbar cannot be customized per user.

Same as conduit toolbar.

3. Technical issues

Though it is less likely to cause technical issues with security programs because it does not phone home or have a bad reputation, there is still potential for support issues compared to the cleaner Opensearch plugins. Significantly, Libx support for IE is still patchy based on my testing, and the user needs to have Microsoft .NET Framework first.

4. Lack of support for most databases beyond OPACs

This is the reason why I almost didn’t add this toolbar to the mix. It works very well with OPACs, but if you try to add specific database searches like Scopus, JStor, it usually doesn’t work well. According to this, it is by design

“LibX assumes users know how to create Smart Keywords in Firefox so it does not offer a search function for periodical databases. It focuses on the library catalog..”

This doesn’t quite make sense to me? One can also create smart keywords for the library catalogue search as well??

Google toolbar

Google toolbar is of course probably the most well known example of toolbars. Amusingly I notice that many systems in my University , particularly the older ones already come installed with Google toolbar (albeit a older version) .

In the early days, many webmasters installed the toolbar to gain access to the PR (page rank) of websites, while other users loved features like the highlighter, autofill, popup blockers etc..

But these days Google toolbar is far more flexible allowing you to add custom searches to any place you want.

Of the custom toolbars mentioned so far, my impressions (based on reading papers on subject Libx and Conduit are the ones usually mentioned) is that Libraries have not typically leveraged on the relative popularity of Google toolbar to add their custom searches. Not quite sure why this is so. Here’s one exception, here’s another (they offer a clickable xml file that will instantly add the search to your google toolbar).

In many ways, creating custom searches for Google toolbar is very similar to creating opensearch plugins, you create and offer the file in xml format. The glory details are here .

Unlike opensearch plugins though, there are almost no web form builders that allow you to quickly create the xml file needed. This is the only one I’m aware of that generates xml files for both opensearch and google custom buttons , but it currently does not work? Still, it takes very little skill to manually edit an existing xml file and replacing the url string with the one you want.

Users can also add custom searches themselves in a way similar to adding smart keywords.

  1. Open the search page you want to create a search button for.
  2. Right-click on the search box on that page that you want to use, select “Generate Custom Search…”, then click “Add”. [Source]


Pros

1. Support of both IE 6+ and Firefox.

Same as Conduit toolbar.

2. Many users might have Google toolbar installed already

If they already have Google toolbar they will be more receptive.

3. Supports POST method for both IE and Firefox.

Google toolbar allows you to setup searches using the POST method. Again as mentioned in an earlier post, this is much better than Opensearch method, since Opensearch using POST method does not work in IE7/8.

3. Each toolbar can be customized per user.

Unlike the other toolbars mentioned, each google toolbar can be customized to add whatever searches they want. This makes it similar to opensearch plugins.

Cons

1.  Creates additional toolbar for browsers that already have default searchbars.

Same as conduit toolbar.

2. Privacy concerns and technical issues

Same as for Conduit, except to a lesser extent as Google is a known quality.

Conclusion

Phew that was a long post. Next up, smart keyword searches and search bookmarklets.