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From Wikipedia to our libraries—John Mark Ockerbloom →

I’ve heard the lament in more than one library discussion over the years.  “People aren’t coming to our library like they should,” librarians have told me.  “We’ve got a rich collection, and we’ve expended lots of resources on an online presence, but lots of our patrons just go to Google and Wikipedia without checking to see what we have.”  The pattern of quick online information-finding using search engines and Wikipedia is well-known enough that it has its own acronym: GWR, for Google -> Wikipedia -> References.  (David White gives a good description of that pattern in the linked article.)

Some people I’ve talked to think we should break this pattern.  With the right search tool or marketing plan, some say, we can get patrons to start with us first, instead of Google or Wikipedia.  This idea seems to me both futile and beside the point.  Between them, Google and Wikipedia cover a vast array of online information, more than librarians could hope to replicate or index ourselves in that medium.  Also, if we truly have better resources available in our libraries than can be found on the open Web, it’s less important that our researchers start from our libraries’ websites than that they end up finding the knowledge resources our libraries make available to them.

[…]

So how do we get people from Wikipedia articles to the related offerings of our local libraries?  Essentially we need three things: First, we need ways to embed links in Wikipedia to the libraries that readers use.  (We can’t reasonably add individual links from an article to each library out there, because there are too many of them– there has to be a way that each Wikipedia reader can get to their own favored libraries via the same links.)  Second, we need ways to derive appropriate library concepts and local searches from the subjects of Wikipedia articles, so the links go somewhere useful.  Finally, we need good summaries of the resources a reader’s library makes available on those concepts, so the links end up showing something useful.  With all of these in place, it should be possible for researchers to get from a Wikipedia article on a topic straight to a guide to their local library’s offerings on that topic in a single click.

I’m in love. Is this what a braingasm feels like?

This could be beautifully applied in an academic library. This is how students (should) work. I want it to happen.

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  5. bookscassidy reblogged this from thelifeguardlibrarian and added:
    Completely brilliant and amazing.
  6. archivawriggghh reblogged this from libraryjournal
  7. awesomearchives reblogged this from thelifeguardlibrarian and added:
    Yes! Perfect! The next step is making sure teachers are aware of this resource and pointing students to it. Can I dream...
  8. waryjack reblogged this from libraryjournal and added:
    This is so correct that it is Correct. I am all over this.
  9. libraryjournal reblogged this from thelifeguardlibrarian
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  11. librarianpirate reblogged this from thelifeguardlibrarian and added:
    There is this great extension for Chrome that, when you’re browsing Amazon, automatically tells you if your library owns...
  12. chrischelberg said: It’s clear I need a shorter queue to get things out before you do.
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