I’m writing both in response to Pete Coco’s blog post, “Convenience and its Discontents: Teaching Web-Scale Discovery in the Context of Google”, and to Lisa M’s post in her blog To Meta or Not to Meta … that is the question.
In his post, Pete Coco comments on the emerging similarity of new library search systems to google and other web-based searh tools, and how this is leading students to imagine that they are in fact the same. Naturally, since people are extremely comfortable with the kind of informal searching that google allows, the need for library instruction is once again called into question.
Making library search tools with simpler, more “google-like” interfaces is having a double edged sword-like effect on the effective searching habits of undergraduates. Presenting these tools as if they’re simple search tools like google, yahoo, or (god forbid) bing, can lead to students not understanding the fundamental differences between the kind of results they are getting from one of those three versus a library search system such as Proquest’s Summon. Coco presents a recourse: he actively encourages students to compare search results from each system.
Lisa recalls the days when she was teaching herself how to search different resources on the library website, without much instruction from librarians, 15 minutes or less, but she was ultimately able to work out which kind of search tools would bring her the information she needed, most likely by comparing the quality of results, and their relevance to her project.