Librarians vs. Google

After completing this week’s readings something became extremely clear to me. Librarians and Google need to work TOGETHER! I know that we’ve discussed this in class before but I think it bears repeating. The article by Naun talked about how some libraries expose their content globally through Google, which is great. However, I think librarians can go a step further than that.

Google is known for their natural language searching. Why can’t libraries utilize this natural language searching in their catalogs? Believe, I’ve thought a lot about this and I know that it would probably require a lot of work but I think it’s worth it. Users would be much more likely to utilize a library’s website and catalog if they could search for a book using natural language rather than trying to decipher which keywords would get the best results or have to know a specific title and author to get anywhere. Sometimes people don’t even know what subject they really want!

Although it seems that some librarians feel some animosity towards Google for drawing people away from libraries and their databases I think it’s time to get over it and attempt to work together. Or at least put their differences aside long enough to create something even BETTER than Google.

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3 thoughts on “Librarians vs. Google

  1. I completely agree – Google is here to stay and is a resource that we can’t deny everyone (including, I’m sure, most of us) uses regularly. There are pros and cons to both library databases and Google, but, like we said in class last week, there are some practical uses that Google provides that cannot be replaced by the limited capabilities and difficult to use library resources. Perhaps it is just that we can use Google for so much more than just research? Maybe because of that we are just so much more comfortable using it for research because we so regularly use it in other aspects of our lives? It’s hard to definitively say. All we can really know for sure is that Google does provide an easy and functional platform that successfully retrieves the requested information most of the time. How can we stand and comfortably tell users to go outside of their norm. I wish it were easier to practically say that libraries should make their databases and catalogs more user-friendly, but that is just not going to happen, not to a level comparable to the ease of Google anyway. That being said, I agree with the above blog; we need to somehow integrate the existing digital world within our own systems somehow. Perhaps work WITH Google to create a library database? Although Google Scholar is still not really used… A conundrum… the search continues…

    1. This reminded me of when Jenna Freedman came to our class and we did the Zine cataloging with her and how we used not only LC subject headings and tags but also some of our own in the description. I think if we can put as much natural language detail into some of the descriptions in catalogs, perhaps it will be easier for users to find what they are looking for.

      I think it will be a long time before library catalogs will use natural language for search tags but here’s to hoping that the Library of Congress will realize soon that some of their subject headings need to change in order to be more relevant in today’s day in age.

  2. I agree as well! I believe the library world is moving towards the type of searching people do on Google. I think this is one of the only ways libraries can stay relevant. Many library catalogs (The University of Pennsylvania, Harvard) have incorporated social tagging into their OPACs. Users can tag items in the catalog and the library’s databases.

    I think the next step is for libraries to develop more mobile searching applications. Imagine if people could easily look something up on their phone in an encyclopedia available through the library instead of Googling or “Wikipedia-ing” a subject. Maybe one day people will use a library’s app to do this.

    -Jordana

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