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Ignore the Man Behind the Curtain

Apr - 3 - 2006
Nicole C. Engard

I came into work today to see that my boss had left me a newsletter to read. The newsletter is Law Librarians in the New Millenium and the article is titled: Ignore the Man Behind the Curtain (pages 1 & 7) by Bill Jack.

Jack remembers a time when only librarians knew how to use Westlaw® and were reveared as wizards of searching. Now everything is on the web and researchers don’t need librarians – right? WRONG! He mentioned a case in 2001 at Johns Hopkins University where a woman died during a study because the doctors didn’t consult the medical librarians – they used (be ready – I gasped when I read this) Yahoo, Goto, HotBot, PubMed and the free version of MedLine. Jack points out that they missed an important article that would have warned them of the dangers of the chemicals they were using because they were using the wrong tools – and consulting a medical librarian was all they had to do to avoid this tragedy.

I think all librarians should read this article by Bill Jack – not just law librarians. Why? Because Jack goes on to say:

This complicated world needs people who specialize in researching a particular area, and who spend a lot of time keeping up with improvements in research tools … We have to keep up with a landscape that seems to be changing at an ever-increasing rate.

He goes on to call us to – surprise surprise – work with our vendors (as partners) to create the right tools for this new age.

[update]added link to article about the case in 2001[/update]

2 Responses so far.

  1. [...] I would like to point Mr. Hirschey to the Johns Hopkins tragedy (something I’ve written about before – and am discussing in one of my classes right now). Then I’d ask him if he’d like to participate – no – if he’d like his kids to participate in a medical study in a world where doctors only have the resources on the Internet to check their facts & research?? [...]

  2. [...] This is something we’ve been talking about in classes lately – people will use anything as long as it’s convenient – and easy to use. The validity of sources does not seem to be a concern – and this is a problem. I find it interesting that people have yet to learn from the mistakes made by those before them – but that is the way it is. [...]


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