I really enjoyed Pete Coco’s article about web-scale discovery services. His discussion reminded me of one of the running themes from LS 500, the principle of least effort. How do we balance user convenience with providing user instruction and meeting their research needs? The path of least resistance is not necessarily the path to knowledge.
“…Good learning is best facilitated by good pedagogy,” writes Coco. I might have screamed aloud after reading this sentence. The need for user instruction will always exist. People will need help in navigating the systems. I’m the first to admit that I hated the word Ebsco until Dr. C-M taught me how to work with, not against the system. Our class assignments helped me improve my skills but without Dr. C-M’s instruction, I would not have learned everything else I’ve added to my toolkit.
Coco also noted that librarians can’t use web-scale discovery to overpromise the easiest route to users. Just because the discovery tool is available doesn’t mean it gives users the best answers. I believe, from an average user’s prospective, a simpler interface could make the search process less daunting. But if I don’t get usable results, what’s so great about it?
He offered several questions about the need to contrast “the commercial internet search and the library tool.” Even if I’m not working in a public or academic library, I owe it to the profession and myself to enlighten others and expose them to knowledge beyond the happy, quadricolored logo. He provided several thoughts I will mull for the rest of my time in SLIS.