Trends

Photo of a busy commons

A busy library with nary a librarian in sight (taken from http://sampleandhold-r2.blogspot.com/2011/08/fixin-to-weed.html)

While preparing for a visit from Project Information Literacy’s Mike Eisenberg for the I.T. Littleton seminar at my workplace, I came across this table:

Resources Used When Course-Related Research Contexts Arise

Resources Used When Course-Related Research Contexts Arise, from "Lessons Learned: How College Students Seek Information in the Digital Age," Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg, Project Information Literacy First Year Report with Student Survey Findings, University of Washington's Information School, December 1, 2009

I tried to read on, but I kept straying back to it, until I found I was staring at it as I tried to digest this information. I feel like I need six weeks–or maybe six months–to fully mull it over. It one thing to know that Google is wiping the floor with Librarians, it’s another to see the hard data laid out like this. Then I got past that initial reaction and noticed that about half of the top ten items on the list are partly or wholly library resources.

As I discussed with Mike after his talk, there are two ways to respond to such a trend (I think it’s safe to assume that the “Librarian” category has fallen steeply from years past, though I’d like to know if it’s continuing to decline or if it’s leveled off): either it’s something to fight or it’s something to adapt to. Librarians need to re-intermediate themselves in the process or we need to divert expenditures to resources and spaces. The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, as one or the other could be targeted at different aspects or stages of information seeking. Maybe I’ll have more to share about this is six weeks, or six months, after it’s worked its way deeper into my thoughts.

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