Librarian Chic and the Almighty Google Search Box

By , June 14, 2012 9:41 am

by Kristine Lloyd

Every year the fashion rags publish their top ten lists of fashion must-haves. For fall 2012 oxblood is the hot color and equestrian embellishments are essential. It’s amazing to me that every year designers miraculously send similar styles flowing down the runway, but somehow that is how trends are made. It wasn’t too many seasons ago that librarian chic and oversized glasses dominated the runways.

Certainly Google has inspired the simplified searching trend throughout the tech world. Take a look at most legal research products, from the smaller vendors to the big guns like Lexis and Westlaw, and you’ll find that most now utilize simplified, federated searching. Gone are the days when librarians could impress each other at cocktail parties with our command of Dialog identifiers.

Not normally one to jump on the trend bandwagon, this is actually a trend I embrace, and maybe it’s because these simple interfaces streamline the teaching process. My experience working with WestlawNext, Lexis Advance and other similarly functioning resources is that they often cut the middle-man out of the picture, and I think that is what chafes us.

Run almost any search on WestlawNext, and you’ll likely need to filter your results to get a manageable list. Keycite results, viewed by tabs and easily filtered, are much easier to view and tinker with by the end user. Our librarian dialect of database identifiers, field designations and terms & connectors is slowly becoming obsolete.

This doesn’t mean that we are becoming obsolete, it just means that as resources change, so does our role in navigating and promoting them. As long as we are adapting, we won’t become just another passing runway trend. Our greatest value is our ability to know and understand our breadth of resources so that we can match our patrons with the appropriate tool and teach them how to use it efficiently and economically.

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