22 May 2014

The problem is not with Google

So someone that I follow somewhere shared a link to this article from the Huffington Post about "What's really wrong with Google"and frankly...it's disappointing as all get out.  The writer identifies themselves as an ex-librarian and starts off with a solid point, that a lot of the time Google does not return the results that people are looking for.  But she then delves into the fallacy that it is Google's fault that this happens, that Google is trying to do away with libraries, and gosh darnit! get that technology out of my library! Or at least that's what it sounds like, given that she states that DIALOG is the pinnacle of searching interfaces.

I really wanted to respond on the post with my thoughts, but...well let's just say that I have issues with their account creation system and leave it at that.  So instead I share my thoughts below:

I'm a librarian and frankly I'm disappointed in your argument that there's something wrong with Google and how people use it.  Yes Google doesn't always return results on topic, but should you blame them? 
You mention DIALOG and I've only used it once..in library school.  DIALOG has faded into the background because it was overly complicated for people to try to use and only librarians could use it. As far as it being able to provide good results, those didn't happen by accident. It happened because someone went through and assigned them the correct terminology. The same could happen today, but it's up to the web programmers to do that 
As far as Google's interface goes, I don't blame them from running away from library interfaces. I mean seriously? I've got a Master's and I still struggle trying to figure out some of the interfaces of the databases that we use today.  Look at DIALOG's "classic" interface! I understand it better now that I've worked with the Linux command line, but no wonder most people couldn't figure it out.
Is Google the be all end all? No...but nor is it Google's fault that result are not what people want. It is because we don't know how to search well and what words to use. We never have to be honest. Even back in card catalog days we had to depend on the librarian to be able to follow the trail. The problem is not Google, but that we have failed to teach people how to search properly. And that is up to us to improve.

And I'm absolutely serious.  We've failed at teaching people how to search.  With card catalogs most of the population couldn't figure out the trail to connect A to Z without a librarian's help. I mean seriously, I remember looking for information on dinosaurs in middle/high school and we had to look at 100 different cards to find 10 sources that I could use.  And it wasn't because they were bad sources, it was because we had to trace through 3 to 5 different cards to find the item sometimes.  So it really should not be a shock to our systems that people leaped at the chance to have a single search box interface that they could actually understand and it would give them some things that were what they wanted?

If we, as librarians, want people to be able to find better results then we need to stop blaming the products like Google and teach our users on how those results are found, and what they can do to get better results.

21 May 2014

My Favorite Thing About Zita the Spacegirl


(cross posted from my Musing Librarian Reviews blog)

Today I’m here to honor Zita the Spacegirl as she embarks upon her greatest adventure and journey yet...the adventure of a reader’s imagination.  While Zita’s book journey is at an end, for now, she will accompany her loyal fans readers on new journeys.  Journeys that they have only just begun to imagine and dream of.  Zita will follow them as they explore the world around them, lending her courage and strength as they face challenges around them, and even lend her experience and skills as they journey into the great unknown.  Zita and her fellow companions will keep us all in good spirits no matter where we go.

We loyal fans and readers have been lucky to be able to follow Zita’s journey, as faithfully chronicled by Ben Hatke, in webcomics, in minicomics, and in three books.  We have watched as Zita has journeyed to parts unknown, to save friends, make new ones, to stop evil in it’s tract, and to find her way home...only to set off on further journeys to help us, to lend us her strength and courage as we continue our journey.  Zita and her friends are beloved, not because they are superheroes with fancy gadgets and powers that we can only dream of.  No...they are beloved because they give us strength and courage on our darkest days.  Because we know that no matter what trouble we may be facing that we can count on Zita to stand with us and give us strength.  We know that no matter what the world may look like outside, Zita will stand with us.

So let us stand and cheer for Zita and her friends!  May their journeys be full of friends wherever they may go, and may their courage and strength never fail.  To Zita!

In honor of the occasion I broke out my pastels to make a little fan art (once I have access to a working scanner I'll post a better image)