Friday, March 16, 2007

Designing Better Libraries

Steven Bell and John Shanks new blog Designing Better Libraries

Librarians have been discussing what Web 2.0 means for libraries. Have Web 2.0 concepts had an impact on how reference librarians operate and do their work on behalf of users? I don't know... It all seems a bit much and overblown to me. Putting up a web page, putting up a blog... Of course it helps, but does having information online solve all user problems? It doesn't seem so to me. My sense is that we're answering a lot fewer factual questions than we might have in the past, but at our busy academic library, we are still doing a lot of one-on-one instruction. We still have a lot of the "How do I find peer-reviewed journal articles on (fill in the subject)?" kind of question. Do we have information about that online? Sure! Could we present that information in a better way? Probably. (It's the old problem: What do we call an "online indexes that contain at least some online full text articles with our SFX linking tool helping ferret out additional items that might not be available in the database you decided to search but at least you can limit to peer-reviewed journals with are journals where the articles are read by a panel of experts before publication and aren't the same kind of periodicals you find in your dentist's office?") I don't think it matters how "in your face" we get with our online "how to's", there are still going to be users who need contact with a human.

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