Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Re: [ACAT] Tell all your associates, don't go to library school.

Posting to Autocat

On 26/06/2012 18:36, Mitchell, Michael wrote:
<snip>
Oh, I agree. We will need to be there to help sort it all out for our constituents (whatever form "it" becomes) and we will have the special skills necessary to do so if we keep on top of our game. As many have said, including Jim, "bibliographic" organization will only become more important as we go along.
Now if we could only get these many "Google-style worshipping librarians" to understand our unique qualifications and stop dumbing down our services. If I wanted to work in a bookstore or develop indiscriminate keyword Web search engines for profit I would have figured out how to do that instead. As I've said before, our students know the difference in usage and outcome between our catalog and Google. I think it is our obligation to refine and accentuate that difference rather than strive for convergence.
</snip>
Yes. The need is to demonstrate it; to prove it to a very skeptical audience. In addition, there is the widespread problem, mentioned by Jerri: "I'm not so sure that "our students" care if there is a difference even after having information literacy classes. I've run into several cases of satisficing when working the reference desk. No amount of demonstrating how to search the catalog using our carefully crafted subject headings gets through to these folks. They want it the easy way and they want it NOW!"

Many people say they don't care about this, but I am not so sure. If you ask students (as I have) "Do you want to be a good citizen of your republic?" I would meet with blank stares. So then, I would go on and say, "Well then, I guess you want to be good servants of a king or good slaves of an emperor. In that case, you don't need to learn anything since you don't need any decent information at all." I would normally get their attention for at least a couple of seconds.

Being able to get decent information is not just about citing a few sources for a paper nobody cares about so that you can pass the course and then go on to get your degree so that you can get a job beyond flipping burgers. Students are not stupid--they know nobody really cares about what they write. This is why I think it is important for them to understand that being able to get decent information is critical in a democracy (republic) where the people at least "claim" to have the power. We have all seen many times what happens when people have access to lousy information--they end up powerless against those who do have the information.

I don't believe this is a politically right or left statement--just a statement of fact. The information services such as Yahoo and Google are giant advertising machines and therefore they do not and will not furnish this since they want, above all else, to make the customer happy. Library attitudes are also alien to people in IT services, who are focused on getting their machines to work. It is the task of librarians to try to ensure access to reliable information to the bulk of the population.

But we have to prove our advantages, and we are stuck with these lousy card catalogs in electronic form and focus on the useless intricacies of RDA and FRBR. There is so much librarianship could offer to the populace if given the chance.

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