A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.
I finished reading a post by a fellow classmate on the ACRL blog, “Convenience and its Discontents: Teaching Web-Scale Discovery in the in the Context of Google” and though I certainly understand where she’s coming from, I fall more on the opposite side of her argument as well as the argument of Pete Coco’s post. The premise is that Google though nifty, is inferior to a library’s resources and discovery tools and that we need to teach users to be better users. I agree with this premise, library search tools are better, and it’s always good to learn things (particularly when it gets you a cookie). The problem is that Google is just easier and often it’s “good enough”. I think one of the problems I have noticed is that library professionals are standing off to the side screaming at the world “You’re doing it wrong!” People using commercial search engines don’t really care if they’re doing it wrong, if they find the information they need (Including scholarly material) and it suits the needs of what they want than it works. It’s not hard to understand when a librarian pitches the arcane rules for using a library’s clumsy, bloated, Rube Goldbergian database and e-catalog, why a user would reply “No Thanks”.
It’s also not productive for blaming the user for not wanting to learn the arcane rules of using a library’s resources, particularly when there is a easier (albeit poorer) alternative. For example, one of the reasons people slam Microsoft is for building an overly complex OS. Personally, I like Windows, I can build and configure my own machines and a lot more (Not trying to start a Win/Mac debate, bear with me). I’ve built gaming machines that can run circles around a Mac. With that said Mac’s are easier to use and they require very little maintenance. They’re designed for people who don’t want to be bothered with the tedium of maintaining a computer. That’s why Apple is so successful, and that same simplicity is why Google is so successful.
So the solution if possible is to produce discovery tools that are simple, easier and INTUITIVE. In other words libraries need to develop tools that are more Google-like.