Information Literacy in an era of web-scale discovery

Just a quick plug for Alan Carbery‘s recent blog post “Information Literacy in an era of web-scale discovery“…

Web-scale search products should give us the chance to rethink our concepts of information literacy teaching. If we’re lamenting the single search box because it means it’ll be harder for us to teach students complex search skills, then we’re missing the point. If we think our students aren’t going to find the single search box on our website, and not use it, we’re wrong. If we think that students are going to choose an A&I resource over a discovery service that finds full text resources, we’re wrong. If we think students are going to choose the complex, confusing and never-ending list of search options from the single database, versus the simplicity of a single search box, we really don’t understand our students […] We can’t ignore discovery services, and we can’t ignore the opportunities they afford us to rethink our own approaches to teaching information literacy.

Alan also links to an article I’d not spotted before: “Beyond simple, easy and fast: reflections on teaching Summon” by Catherine Cardwell, Vera Lux, Robert J. Snyder.


2 thoughts on “Information Literacy in an era of web-scale discovery

  1. Great points !–but it’s more than a ‘single search box’. OPACs *could* do that and some people mistook that for somehow answering the ‘Google’ challenge.But an OPAC ‘keyword’ search entered in a single search box didn’t really compete— It’s about *how* that search is processed — the broader *intelligence* of the ‘discovery’ system. Put simply it wasn’t just a single search box that won it for Google is was the page rank etc stuff that governed the *results*. So isn’t a key factor for library discovery systems the *quality* of results judged against the need of the user.

  2. Hi Ken

    I agree, it’s more than a single search box, but I do think that for our 1st year users; the single search box is the main draw. It’s the not having to do Boolean, not having to worry about search syntax, that’s the real draw.

    Summon (largely) works because of all the other elements. But I really think our users aren’t so concerned with relevancy rankings

    I suppose the point is, Summon and other discover tools seem to be getting the things end-users want, with some of the powerful background elements that support the search experience.

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