Bowling A Googly…Say What

Maybe it’s just my cultural ignorance or that I’m hardly an Anglophile, but I had no clue about the reference to “bowling a googly” in this article about Google and the challenges/opportunities it presents to academic libraries that appears in the latest issue of Ariadne – which happens to be a special 10th anniversary issue. It has quite a few good articles for academic librarians.

The author, John MacColl, also a co-founder of Ariadne, makes reference to Google doing the googly thing to academic libraries. Although he attempts to explain it – for the benefit of us Yanks I suppose – I still found myself Googling the phrase to figure out what it meant. It’s hard enough to comprehend some of the article, and it’s especially challenging if you can’t get past the first paragraph. Turns out it’s a UK phrase that’s similar to our “being thrown a curve” – getting hit with something you didn’t quite expect – and like our baseball derived phrase I believe the “googly” reference is straight out of cricket. I suppose you could say that over the last few years Google has bowled us a googly more than a few times.

MacColl basically gives us a summary of some of these googly events (primarily Book Search and Scholar), and indicates the ways in which our profession has responded. I think most academic librarians are past the stage of perceiving Google as a threat, and are now just looking for ways to both integrate it into our resource offerings and help end users get the most out of it. In a post to COLLIB-L this morning a librarian from Marist College indicated that they have integrated Google as an option in their federated search system, and that doing so has actually increased the use of other library database content. My own Google philosophy these days is to view it as one more option in a wide spectrum of resources that we can offer to our users, and to promote user education as the way to help them make the right choice of information resource that is appropriate to their information need – and to become aware that the likelihood of flawed and ineffective research is not in using Google itself, but in being Google-centric in an expanding information universe.

Addendum to yesterday’s post on SMS Reference – see a new IT TRENDS (Campus Technology) column by Terry Calhoun on the impact of text messaging and the use of smart phones by college students. He believes it’s going to drastically reduce their use of e-mail.

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