Stop Arguing and Do Something

A quote from a friend who will remain nameless: “i swear to god, if the library world invested half as much time in doing things, as talking/arguing about things .. the world would be a better place”

I have to agree with this quote – especially after reading the comments on the recent article about Blacklight in The Chronicle of Higher Education and then the comment summary post on The Wired Campus (also from The Chronicle).

First off – this is supposed to be an article about the success of a library system in creating an amazing system to improve services to their patrons. After reading the chapter in Library Mashups that covered the Blacklight project I fell in love! What an amazing OPAC with amazing functionality. And it’s a chapter about librarians doing something instead of complaining about how it’s the fault of patrons and educators – not the broken system.

I don’t understand how it is that library professionals can’t see the simple fact that Google is not the enemy! And expecting patrons to know how to search systems the way we’re trained is just crazy! If they all knew how to do what we do then we wouldn’t have jobs! That said we want library patrons to at least be able to find resources in our libraries – and our OPACs are broken – so much so that in some libraries they’re useless.

I had a friend who was searching her local library for a copy of The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan and couldn’t find it – she did a title search, she did an author search, and she did a keyword search – but the system in question (and many more that she tried) had most of those words listed as stop words. What if you have a patron searching for It by Stephen King? Or the O magazine? These are searches I do when demoing Koha because Koha can find these titles when many other systems can’t.

I’ve gone into a rant now – but my point is – stop blaming others – stop accepting the status quo and go out there and support the libraries who are working to fix things for our patrons – support and use open source and you’ll be shocked at how everything you thought about library automation changes.


  1. Wow – thanks for pointing this out. You mean that the library world is still sticking its head in the sand and claiming that it is the user that is broken? We put years and years of research into the best ways to organize and classify information right down to the point of debating such minutia as whether to use a comma or semicolon to separate terms. Then Google comes along and builds something so simple and intuitive to use that finds relevant results and librarians dismiss it. Sure, the general Google user won’t find as much as an expert library system user would, but considering the ease of use of Google, there is a lot that library systems can learn.

    Some of the comments posted on that article really scare me for the future of this profession. They come across like carriage-makers dismissing the new automobile as a fad, rather than recognizing a changing trend and adapting their businesses to deal with it.

  2. Dave,

    I love that analogy!! And yes, these comments are very scary.

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