Friday, September 30, 2005

The LITA Forum in San Jose

The 8th Annual LITA Forum in San Jose began Friday with a welcoming presentation by Roy Tennant (User Services Architect at the California Digital Library and a columnist for Library Journal) called Googlezon, Episode VI: Return of the Librarians. First he showed a little film that he made that tells the history and future of Google. Stating afterward that he can not really predict the future, which is "always more bizarre than we expect," he wanted to make the point that Google may seem strong right now, but it could be gone in five years; it is a public company with a commitment to stock holders; big companies fall; it could be bankrupt and gone. Libraries are here “for the long haul.” We have to adapt to survive, but we can do so.

To outlast the Internet giants, libraries need to learn from them. They all became big by taking simple ideas and applying them to new services. Not only should we use their methods, we should use their services to push our content through their pages.

I gather from reading other reports that Tennant has some oft repeated statements, including one he used today: “Librarians like to search, everyone else likes to find.” He especially picked on library catalogs, saying they need to be scrapped and replaced by better systems. “Stop putting lipstick on pigs,” he repeated several times.

Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and Microsoft have lots of money, but libraries have lots of skilled, dedicated people. He thinks we can beat them.

There is a more detailed report on his presentation at LITA Blog. You will also find my report on the difficulties of web harvesting government information at LITA Blog.

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