in General, Libraries/Info Sci, Tech

Google and Your Patrons

When: Friday, November 18 2005 11:00 AM
Where: Calhoun Community College, Huntsville AL
My Role: Attendee
Today I attended a teleconference put on as part of the “Soaring to Excellence” series of talks. “Google and Your Patrons” featured Steven Bell, with a brief phone appearance by Mary Ellen Bates.

I’ve done a bit of poking around Google on my own, and honestly didn’t expect to pick up much from the talk. Thankfully, I was proven wrong! Bell hammered on the point that while Google isn’t everything, if we dismiss it out of hand then we also dismiss our patrons who have come to depend on it.

Instead, why not show them how to use Google more effectively? I’ll take any teachable moment I can get. Make it clear that Google has limitations. As the patron (or student) gets to know Google better, point out features of library databases and other resources that will enhance and extend their search.

Beyond the central themes, I also picked up on a number of smaller items.
Google Ride Finder points out where taxis currently are in selected cities
Thumbshots and Dogpile have great visual methods of comparing what multiple search engines return.
-I’d forgotten the syntax for Open Worldcat results in Google: search for “Find in a library” as a phrase, along with what you’re looking for.

In the end, Bates and Bell both emphasized the need for balance. Show patrons that while there is Google, there is also more. Let them make their own conclusions.