Information Behavior

Google vs. Search Engines.

It was more than a year ago that Lorcan Dempsey pointed out this bit from The Chronicle:

Librarians should not assume that college students welcome their help in doing research online. The typical freshman assumes that she is already an expert user of the Internet, and her daily experience leads her to believe that she can get what she wants online without having to undergo a training program. Indeed, if she were to use her library’s Web site, with its dozens of user interfaces, search protocols, and limitations, she might with some justification conclude that it is the library, not her, that needs help understanding the nature of electronic information retrieval.

So I’m continually surprised to find people defending our old, broken search systems in the face of pressure from internet search services that we’ve all come to depend on.

Thing is, where’s the greater criticism in this?

Google’s simplicity and impressive search prowess trick students into thinking they are good all-around searchers, and when they fail in library searches, they are ashamed as well as confused.

Does the above serve to emphasize the “laziness” and “intellectual inferiority” that seem to be the theme of so many of our discussions about “today’s students?” Or does it instead show how backward we and our systems are?

I second Peter Binkley’s retort, but I also want to point out the huge wedge being driven between academic libraries and our patrons. We see it in the two perspectives on that quote above. Right now it’s a matter of not meeting patron needs, but I’m also worried about what happens when those students become faculty, and later, administrators. How will they value the library then?

(Title graphic from GoogleAlive. Go play, it’s fun.)