Friday, October 17, 2008

A Loaded Question

From Autocat this afternoon:
"Some staff here are convinced that "you
can't find anything" in our catalog. That it has become an unnecessary
expense since most patrons browse the collection anyway. If so, is it
the fault of the catalog, or the untrained user? Or both?"

What a huge question to just post nonchalantly on a listserv. What amuses me, though, is that this is the question at the heart of all the new-fangled discovery tools like Aquabrowser and iBistro and all that nonsense. This is a HUGE QUESTION, Palm Beach County Library System, and no one really knows the answer to it. In fact, I would argue that these questions are the very core of all the changes going on in the library world right now. I wonder if she'll get any responses. I certainly do not have the finger endurance to type out the kind of response that she needs....although, to be fair, probably no one does. But if I did, it would start out with "When Yahoo and Google started creating their own search engines in 1996..." and we'd just go on from there. My response would probably end with "and no one knows, even to this day, if the problem is the catalog or the untrained user, or both. Although I figure it's both."

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"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.