27 June 2007

The Research Divide

Wow, this article in the Chronicle is interesting but the real fun comes from the comments at the end. I was shocked that a professor would claim that librians are " incapable of anything beyond using the keywords in their database" and the slew of rude remarks librarians returned. Comments like SteveB (is that Steve Bell, perhaps?) and SusanB try to remind the audience that this is a chance to help someone understand the library and librarians. It is not an appropriate time to bring out the gloves.

I think the real issue here is about the Professor's(here I am referring to the commentator) conflicting expectations of the library. On one hand, he seems to want to develop a close relationship with his collection and someone who can guide him through it. Otherwise, why else does he come to the library and approach a librarian? On the other hand, he has been "Google-ized"--he wants answers and he wants them RIGHT NOW. The nuance of his question and of research itself has been lost, even on this, let's assume, experience researcher.

And perhaps that is where the actual content of the article comes into play. While Mann might have a point in saying that books continue to hold ground in research, that is a day gone by. Technology is here to stay and the key, it seems to me, is to figure out how to use it and share it with novices and advanced researchers so that nuances or straightforward questions can be addressed with the wealth of information available to us, in print and online. And our goal as librians is to not only guide people through that practice but teach them how to go about it on their own, knowing we are always here to help.

It is technical and instructional and customer service and detailed and general all at once. That is why it is only for the fierce at heart. Roar.

1 comment:

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