“The library didn’t choose Google, our users chose”


“The library didn’t choose Google, our users chose”

In this linked blogpost about a library conference, the focus is on changing information behavior of scientists & scholars, and how libraries react. One of the more intriguing points is the opening talk about a scientist’s 100% library free research cycle! Though nothing new (especially in the biological and life sciences where PubMed is most of the time more than sufficient), it poses the question of the library’s or librarians’ value for researchers.

In my talk about “Megalibraries and Microservices” (German) at #bibtag14, I raised the question of whether libraries do get netflixed by Google, Amazon, and (yes) places like Starbucks, when they focus on library space and collection development (either physical or digital). Instead of focussing on those and on the implementation of the newest tech in library catalog or discovery systems, librarians should work harder on understanding their users’ needs and answer with appropriate services for them. (And not offer services users should need and hope they would actually use them.)

As Simone Kortekaas from Utrecht University Library (NL) puts it in her talk at the conference:

In the world we live in today it seems silly to ask users to start their search in a local catalogue. There is a lot of work for libraries to do instead of worrying about discovery, for example supporting researchers in data management. With discovery, libraries need to accept that others can do it better.