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Reference Question of the Week – 11/16/08

   November 22nd, 2008

let me Google that for you imageI'm going to be visiting my family for the week of Thanksgiving, so this will be my last post until I get back. So instead of a regular reference question today, here's a tool people can use when they're asked questions.

It's not just Google, it's let me Google that for you. Of course I would never use this with a patron, but it's "teaching moment" kind of tool, to remind people that Google is good for certain kinds of questions (it's entertaining, but also borders on snarky).

The way it works is this: visit the website and type in the question you were asked - say, What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? Click the search button, and you get a link to send back to the person who asked you the question, which shows them how they could found the answer themselves.

Just out of curiosity, I thought I'd run a few recent Reference Questions of the Week through it, to see how my answers compared with Google's:

Google will not replace librarians, because librarians help people in was that Google can't. And by the way, there is a similar website, but it has a bad word in the URL. Thanks, Chris.

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3 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 11/16/08”

  1. jk Says:

    The idea that because librarians do things that google can’t means librarians are needed, misses the point. Google does enough most of the time for free. Gas pumpers, bank tellers, supermarket checkout clerks, elevator operators — all did/do things of value. (1) It is simply vastly more efficient economically to encourage people to get by without them by using self-service. (2) Reference could be provided centrally (perhaps through remote connections to a large library e.g. New York Public or a facility in Bangalore) on a 24 hour basis for a lot less money.

  2. laura Says:

    Truly brilliant.

  3. Liz Says:

    JK, what you say may be true for some, but it sounds like you’re assuming all reference work could be done electronically. There are quite a few people (not in our age group) who are uncomfortable using technology, don’t have home access to it, or need help with it. Even if one could telephone NYC or Bangalore, there are still people who prefer (need?) a human being face-to-face to explain things and assist them.