Convenience and its Discontents: Teaching Web-Scale Discovery in the Context of Google
by Pete Coco
The post highlights the balance that library professionals must walk with introducing students to new “Google like” search tools, such as Summon. Though these tools are more convenient for users who are acclimated to the Google style of search, they don’t produce the highest quality of results. For the student users, they use the Principle of Least Effort approach. They’ve found something using the scholarly web scale tool, and even though it’s not quite what they were looking for, it will do. However, if they had received a better set of instructions prior to their search, than students can use these web-scale discovery tools in a more refined manner and receive better results.
An interesting point is made that students might think that if this library search tool is like Google, why do we need the tool anyway? The author says that he can illustrate the difference between the two services with a simple example of running “Batman” through both and seeing the different results. I think that it is clear that students who are introduced to databases/other library web resources are going to need some instruction, even if the search tool looks like a Google search bar. They are going to need to be told where Discovery Service or Summon are found to start! I don’t see there being any issue with providing a tutorial of these search tools. If students know how to use them properly, they will see the results in their searches and the ease with which they can find and use research. Being taught Boolean terms and ways of refining a search is helpful even when using a search engine like Google, so librarian educators should not shy away from maintaining the need for user instruction of online library search tools.