January 20, 2012

Can Academic Libraries Out-do Google?

Posted in Digital Libraries tagged at 1:05 am by mknight1130

I walk into a back office at Lewis and Clark College to talk with Jeremy, Digital Services Coordinator. Among other tasks, he coordinates 7 digital collections and projects, spanning art, to poetry, to documents collected by the Waztek library. I put Jeremy to the test. Why should students go to a digital collections instead of using Google? He thinks for a moment. The digital archives provide portals to common interests but Google provides information instantaneously. Some student wonder why have an academic library at all when so much is available online.

Experts have pondered the value of academic libraries and  how they can cater to digital library seekers.  Can they out do Google. Several articles about this topic are listed by Candy Schwartz at http://gslis.simmons.edu/blogs/candy/ This includes http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/publications/briefingpaper/2010/bpdigitalinfoseekerv1.pdf , giving suggestions on how libraries can meet their digital needs. As a former student of Candy Schwartz, I find her very knowledgeable about digital libraries.

Fast Company, takes a different perspective in the article  Google’s Digital Library Failed–Can Academics Succeedhttp://www.fastcompany.com/1744427/can-academic-libraries-succeed-where-google-failed . The article talks about how most of academia, as non-for profit, could succeed in building a digital public library for America. The article ends with lots of questions.

I took a different tack in my conversation with Jeremy. What if academic libraries provided digital collections that are customizable?  Perhaps a collection where students and faculty could decide what information they wished to stay current, similar to an RSS feed. Perhaps the digital library collections could integrate with social media, such as Facebook and Delicious API’s . Promise abounds for academic libraries and their digital collections.

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