Daily Archives: May 10, 2006

So Google Wants To Make A Movie With Librarians

I will really be curious to see if any academic librarians show up in Google’s movie. Google is accepting submissions from librarians who have a great Google story, and will then feature selected librarians in a short movie that will be premiered at the ALA conference.

I certainly use Google to find websites when I can’t remember the URL or an article I think I’ve seen somewhere but can’t remember where (and I use other engines for the same things), and I use it regularly to get definitions or to see how certain phrases are used – and I’m a big fan of Google Desktop. But I can’t honestly recall any occasion in recent memory where I used Google to help a student with a serious (or even not so serious) research question. Maybe it’s because most of the research I do is business related and the questions I field are much better answered with library databases or specialized web sites than Google. And when I do library instruction I often try to provide tips for improving Google searches – as well as encouraging students to search more than one engine. So I’m not pro-library/anti-Google by any means. Just the same, this Google movie offer rubs me the wrong way. Do they think librarians are so desperate for attention that we’ll fall all over ourselves to appear in a movie that promotes a search engine rather than library resources? Obviously they do.

So I’m really wondering if academic librarians will try to get into the movie. Maybe there are some academic librarians out there who have more opportunities than I do to get creative with Google. If you want to go for it, don’t let my bad vibes about the Google movie get in your way. Again, I’ve got nothing against Google, but my hope is that librarians everywhere will just completely ignore this movie offer. I think my gut feeling on this one is about having some personal dignity and pride in our craft, and not feeling the need to sell out to a search engine. I mean not one single submission. Google, when it comes to innovation you are near the top of the heap, but I think this is one idea that we can do without.

Pubishers Speak Up

The New York Times (via CNET) reports on how some publishers have responded to the introduction of the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006. The gist of it?

Scholarly publishing has never been a big business. But it could take a financial hit if a proposed federal law is enacted, opening taxpayer-financed research to the public, according to some critics in academic institutions.

Never been a big business?! Don’t tell Elsevier shareholders.

There are two arguments in this article made against the bill from representatives of scholarly societies, for whom publishing isn’t a big business but is the activity that helps pay their bills and provide membership perks; they have good, honest reasons to be concerned that they will lose the income they have used for their societies. Though in this article, the arguement is framed a little differently: subscriptions may drop off and that will make it harder to sell ads because they can’t claim as many readers will see the ads. (Advertising? Is that where the money comes from? Who knew?) The other is a little more contentious.

Scientific data is easily misinterpreted, said Joann Boughman, executive vice president of the American Society of Human Genetics, publisher of The American Journal of Human Genetics. “Consumers themselves are saying, ‘We have the right to know these things as quickly as we can.’ That is not incorrect. However, wherever there is a benefit, there is a risk associated with it.”

So, make libraries pay for the subscriptions and make them available to a limited audience so the gullible public won’t read and misinterpret results. Because that would be bad for them. Right.

I always thought the argument that ordinary folks will benefit by being able to read research results a little dubious; it’s not that they will benefit by reading them, because for the most part they won’t, but that they will benefit because scientists will have greater access to them. And that public good is why we fund their research in the first place.

Congratulations To New ACRL President-Elect Julie Todaro

By now most ACRL members have come across some news of the ACRL presidential election results. Just yesterday ACRL made the announcement official with this press release. Congratulations to Julie Todaro on being elected as Vice-President/President-Elect of ACRL. I’m sure we will all be looking forward to her term as ACRL president.

It was a well-run election by both Todaro and Cynthia Steinhoff, and the nomination committee is to be applauded for giving us two outstanding individuals to choose from – and more significantly – an opportunity to have a community college library director at the helm of ACRL, something that I believe has not been the case in recent memory.

The complete ACRL election results are available online.