Alana Mohamed Week #4 Response

As always, I am fascinated by the business side of libraries, so that’s probably why Bradford Lee Eden’s “The New User Environment: The End of Technical Services?” appealed to me so much.  I feel like it was a good balance to Tennant’s sensationalism and bad taste. (“It was then that I remembered Gil Scott-Heron’s message to his black brothers and sisters back in the day.” …!!!!!) I was fascinated by Eden’s point that “more than 80 percent of information seekers begin their search on a Web search engine.”  It shouldn’t surprise me.  After all, isn’t that how I started research for my own final project proposal?  I wonder, however, what percentage feel the need to refine their information with OPACs?  It seems not enough as Eden goes on to quote Martha Bates, saying that users “even use information that they know to be of poor quality and less reliable—so long as it requires little effort to find—rather than using information they know to be of high quality and reliable, though harder to find.”  This idea of framing web search engines as a competitor to OPACs is not a distinction I had fully made, for whatever reason.  But the idea of humans v machine pops up again, when Eden talks about what to do with the seemingly devalued technical services staff.  He proposes that they remain vital to the project by becoming metadata librarians and utilizing their knowledge of information organization along w interdisciplinary technical skills.  This idea appealed to me because I began to think about humans v machines in the market.  While we as humans can’t compete with machines in terms of speed or efficiency, we are typically more flexible and holistic.  I agree with Eden that from this stand-point, libraries need to augment their current system and focus on the strengths they can bring to information seekers.

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