I love Google. I hate Google.
I love it for its efficiency, and for its constant striving to be relevant to my way of life on the web. I am still open-mouthed with admiration for its dominance of Web searching, shrugging off all pretenders to its throne for so many years.
But I hate it for its lazy friends. I mean all those press and telly people who want to convince us that a Google search is all you need to find everything useful, and all the punters who believe them. A huge part of the blame belongs to Google as a company; for understandable corporate reasons, they have posed as a one-stop Web tool, but this is a message for prospective shareholders. Ordinary Web users need to be reminded that other resources are available and often necessary, and this is something Google has not properly addressed.
So, given my admiration for the positive aspects of Google, I was amazed and quite ridiculously pleased to read one of Google’s own boffins (Daniel M Russell) – an expert in search, no less – praising the services he gets from his local library, principally the electronic reference resources which Google cannot find because they are subscription-based and only available to library members.
Westminster’s reference services are at Marylebone Information Service and Westminster Reference Library. They are the holders of most of our special collections, alongside Westminster Music Library and the Archives Centre, and between them offer vast numbers of resources that are either not online or not available via Google. And of course you can use your library membership card to get at oodles of the not-on-Google stuff from the comfort of your own home, via the 24/7 Library.
Mr Russell also likes to use his library to save money. Lots of money. I’ve talked about this before though, so won’t repeat myself here.
Oh, and (I feel I shouldn’t mention this, but I will) he likes reference librarians too, who are “both incredibly well-informed about the infoverse AND incredibly happy to tell you everything they know in order to make you a better researcher”; who are “genuine saints who want nothing more than to teach you how to do the search on your own and make you self-sufficient”.
Now obviously, as a reference librarian, I am prevented by modesty from agreeing with the description “saint”. And I’m not going to be stupid enough to make any claims about my success rate in helping people to do their searching efficiently and enjoyably. But that’s what I strive for. Every day.
Read Mr Russell. Then get round to the library. You know it makes sense!