Librarians And Google: Tips Of The Trade

Google attended the ALA Conference in New Orleans and produced a video entitled Tips of the Trade together with some additional text only tips from librarians and other information professionals. It’s a shame that Google limited participation to American librarians, but it was explained to me that there would have been technical and legal problems with filming librarians from other countries (though that doesn’t explain why they couldn’t have added in anecdotes from them; a lovely opportunity to draw together and share global experiences).

However this is perhaps carping; it’s good to see a search engine (other than Ask who employs Gary Price) actually showing interest in, and paying attention to librarians. What I found interesting was the choice of examples that Google used, both in the video and the text tips.

In the video we were treated to brief clips on how Google Earth could be used to orientate students around London, how the search engine could be used to find a play for children, and two quick nods towards Book Search and searching for lyrics. The video ended with a quote “I can’t imagine research life without Google”.

The text only tips covered the use of Google Alerts, Video, Reader, language restrictions, Desktop, Maps, genealogical searching, Scholar and searching for business information.

These were all interesting in and of themselves, but with respect to the information professionals included there was nothing really earth shattering. At one point Google describes them as “terrific anecdotes”, and I think that’s a rather fairer and more accurate summary than “tips of the trade”. If the audience was intended to be the librarians patrons it would have been more understandable, but given that it is other information professionals I was hoping for rather more complex hints and tips.

As it stands, both the video and the text tips were interesting, but lacking that ‘wow’ factor that I talked about yesterday. Google has made a great start in holding discussions with librarians and the information profession as a whole; I just hope that they build on this and move towards global conversations that we can all contribute to.

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