Thursday, 8 December 2005

Help the informationless...

Reading this: "Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources (2005)" from OCLC.org.

Just read some of the comments that respondents have provided about advice they would give to libraries. Things like "Make a way to search through all of the databases with one search engine, instead of having to search each database individually." or "It is tedious to go to library, it is easy to trace the information on internet."

It's true that libraries and librarians NEED to market themselves more. Most people have no clue as to what we do and why they need us. Many people don't need us. They are very happy to blunder through life without reading or looking anything up. But more people would be better off if they knew that there's a lot better information out there if only they would reach out and grab it. And it's really the librarian's duty to go out and show people. (Just like it's the job of the police to make their services known and available, etc.)

However, it can't be all on the librarian's head. Some of these comments (like the ones above) strike me as ridiculous. Saying that it is "easy to trace the information on internet" is like when being asked, "What's the easiest way make lots of money?" answering, "Printing it yourself." Of course it would be easier if we could all just have what we wanted right at our finger tips but what is at our finger tips is not always what we want, no matter how much it looks like it. The Internet has a lot of useful information, I will agree, but not about everything. And it is rarely the best first choice. It's good for a quick info grab and it's good as a last resort when you can't find it anywhere else. And it's a lot of fun otherwise. That's it.

(The other quote really gets to be too: "Make a way to search through all of the databases with one search engine..." Telling librarians this is like telling your family doctor to make a pill that will cure everything. Libraries have been attempting to provide these "federated searching" tools but the inherent problem is that it reduces the tool to what EVERY database can do. If you've got one database that is really easy to use and provides access in a way that makes it really easy to get what you want, too bad. If the others don't have it, then the federated searcher won't either. Databases are made by all different companies: there is no Microsoft of databases, making everything compatible with everything else. And, given Microsoft's problems, would we want a one in every business?)

1 comment:

andie said...

It's probably because the world feels so fast-paced now. People want instant gratification. And you can't go Ctrl+F on a book. And it's not true either; you can't find everything on the Internet. I've been looking everywhere for showtunes, hahah. :)