Online: Tom Roper on David Nicholas’s address to the Cilip AGM

I was too slow to grab a ticket for the Cilip AGM but luckily Tom Roper has blogged his views on the talk of the evening, David Nicholas (an old lecturer of mine at City university before he defected) on the Google generation.

As Tom summarises:

Librarians don’t bang our drum enough: as information and its retrieval becomes more and more complex, we can help, if we can show how we can help people and organisations achieve the outcomes they want… We cannot count on loyalty anymore.

I’ve definitely noticed the effect Google has had on search practices at work. A few years ago, the first thing a trainee was taught was Boolean searching; we realised a few weeks ago, to our embarrassment, that our current trainee (who has been with us since September) didn’t know the term.

Journalists used to whacking words into Google and receiving an immediate answer are much less patient when deep searching is needed, and much less receptive to learning advanced search techniques. They’re also much more likely to favour non-authoritative sources that offer quick answers than taking the time to find reliable sources (Wikipedia is increasingly cited as a source in its own right).

I don’t think David Nicholas is entirely right (Tom makes a good point that a lot of content is disappearing behind paywalls, making it harder not easier to locate) but librarians do need to develop new strategies to enable the Google generation to find the information they need in an over-saturated web, rather than attempting to train users in old, and sometimes out-of-date, searching styles.

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