Google volunteers “weed the shelves”?

I about spit out a mouthful of coffee as I was reading Lorcan Dempsey's blog this morning. Lorcan highlights the last paragraph of Nicholas Carr's post, Data center porn. Nicholas's post is reporting on Information Week's editor John Foley's visit to Google's new data center in The Dalles, Oregon.

This is what almost caused the spit take…

Patchett [the data center manager] goes on to describe the many community-service projects that Google employees are involved in around The Dalles, from wiring an outdoor stage to lending IT support to the fire department. One activity, though, strikes me as slightly troubling: "Google volunteers also 'weed the shelves' at the library every couple of weeks."

I never knew that working for Google auto-magically makes a person qualified to weed a library's collection. 

36% of Adult Americans Use Wikipedia

The Pew Internet and American Life Project released a new research report today on Wikipedia's popularity (complete PDF).

You are more likely to use Wikipedia if you are male (39%), 18-29 (44%), a college graduate (50%), or make more than $75,000 a year (42%). Wikipedia has 24% share of traffic of the top 20 educational web sites. Google Scholar comes in at number 6, Google Book Search at number 7, and the National Library of Medicine (I guess PubMed) at number 9.

I don't think we're doing a good job promoting the electronic library resources available at the state level, like the Ohio Web Library. Anyone in Ohio with a public library card can get instant access to a bunch of EBSCO databases, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and a lot more.

As easy as that is to say, we all know what the real issue is though. The reason Wikipedia gets so much use is due to the fact that it is dead simple to discover via search. The Pew report points out that Wikipedia articles have a high number of in bound links. Therefore, they display near the top of Google results thanks to the PageRank algorithm. 

Out-googling Google: Federated Searching and the Single Search Box (Contributed Paper)

Katy Silberger and Verne Newton from Marist College shared their experiences implementing Central Search, a product from Serial Solutions. Federated search was implemented as part of a web site redesign. Direct links to discipline specific resources and federated searching is available on the library's front page. Their federated search is dubbed Fox Hunt, after the college's mascot, the red foxes.

A conscious decision was made to include Google and Google Scholar as part of federated search. The single federated search box includes the phrase, “Search library databases and Google at the same time," to get student's attention. Katy shared that during instruction she informs students that Google is not able to index the deep web (like subscription databases). By using Fox Hunt, students have a better chance of finding more relevant sources for their assignments. Usage statistics show a dramatic increase in the number of full text article usage and PDF downloads.  

Image searching was an additional benefit for Marist from their implementation of federated search. The college offers a fashion design/merchandising major. It was often challenging for students to find pictures of fashion for class projects. The Library's solution to this problem was to include the NYPL Digital Gallery, NYPL Picture Collection Online, and American Memory web sites as part of the fashion design/merchandising federated search. Katy indicated that the descriptions in American Memory are very detailed and often include clothing descriptions. 

The conference paper, presentation, and demos of Fox Hunt are available on Marist's web site.  

I was most impressed by their decision to include the image collections in federated search. Image searching is not currently included in OhioLINK's federated search tool. I am not sure if it has been considered, but worth suggesting. Ohio students (and all Ohioans with a public library card) are able to search across multiple art collections within the Digital Media Center. However, it would be nice to include other open digital collections in the OhioLINK federated search tool.

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