So, what’s new with Internet Librarians?

  • Posted November 11th, 2005 at 11:41 am by Yahoo! Search
  • Categories: Search

1,100 librarians recently swarmed on the seaside town of Monterey, California for a deep dive in search technology, and I was among them. Topics included desktop search, visual and clustering search, podcasting, taxonomies and metadata, RSS, blogs, wikis, online education, intranets, spyware, digitization, wireless access, and more. In today’s world of search engines, librarians are reaching way beyond the physical walls of the library.

To make library services more compelling, some librarians have begun experimenting with new virtual reference techniques like instant messenger and text-messaging to interact with patrons. Although some adults may be slow to adopt these techniques in the library, just imagine the usefulness to all the teenagers who already use instant messenger and text-messaging as their main methods of communication.

Elsewhere, librarians discussed creating online library catalogs that allow patrons to tag, comment, review, share, recommend, and otherwise create a virtual community around records in the catalog. Imagine browsing through a library catalog and seeing other people’s reviews or recommendations for similar items. Sounds like what happens on many Web sites now, places like Yahoo! Local, My Web 2.0, Flickr, Furl, Amazon.com, etc.

Of course I attended the search-related discussions at the conference, which included representatives from Yahoo! , Google, Ask, A9, Groxis and PubSub. My main take-away was that some librarians feel the major search companies are helping improve access to information, while other librarians are concerned about the monopolization and commercialization of information. This was particularly evident in the sessions and hallway conversations I heard about digitizing books, which we’ve been thinking hard about, as well.

Finally, librarians are continuing to evolve their roles now that people rely so heavily on search engines. What does this mean?

  • For search, knowing when to use particular vertical and specialty engines, specialty databases, meta-search engines, advanced search syntax for the big engines, and so forth.
  • For news, helping people use RSS, email alerts, and so forth to know when new and relevant content is available online.
  • For sharing information, helping people find and share with others by using blogs, wikis, and tagging.

As the world of online and offline libraries continue to converge, I think this quote summarizes the conference perfectly: ‘In 2020, Internet Librarian will simply be called the Librarian Conference.’ Mark Sandler, University of Michigan.

Got something to say about libraries in the digital age? Let us know!

Chris Fillius
Manager, Search Quality Analysis Team

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