Chapter 11 definitely struck a chord in regards to search engines, how to find information and the pros and cons of different types of systems available. I find this especially daunting as I consider the different levels of students I may encounter. How, for example, would a system work for both a first grader and a sixth grader? What would be the best way to organize information so that both teachers and students alike can find materials with ease?
With Google at the forefront of most people’s minds when they hear the term “search engine,” it seems that a keyword search has become the norm in the public sector but as Weedman points out, more specific searches require a degree of strategy other than simply typing in a few keywords (p 122). To this extent, it is understandable why middle and high school students would find academic research frustrating, especially when they are used to instant results as web searches often provide.
This chapter reminded me of a commercial for a new search engine I had seen on television called Bing. Bing is supposed to be “The cure for search overload syndrome,” according to their advertisement. After exploring www.bing.com for a few minutes it was clear that the search engine’s results were organized definitely different than Google or Yahoo; it divided a common keyword search into subcategories but the results themselves didn’t seem to be strikingly different. Like Google or Yahoo, the user also has the option to search only within images, videos, news, or shopping. Below is an example of their commercial which humorously illustrates the inherent problem with most web searches:
Weedman, J. (2008). Information retrieval: Designing, querying, and evaluating information systems. In Ken Haycock & Brooke E. Sheldon (Eds.), The portable MLIS: Insights from the experts. Westport, Connecticut, Libraries Unlimited.
When considering a collection in a school library (which is where I’m hoping to end up), Chapter 9 makes a lot of very relevant, interesting points. The most vital of which, in my opinion, is the importance of building personal relationships. Not only does it seem to help decide what the school environment would most benefit from keeping in the collection but it also allows for great communication between teachers, administrators, students and the librarian. Although logically it seems incredibly simple, making a concerted effort to engage in personal relationships instantly allows for the other facets of maintaining a collection to fall into place.
For example, personal relationships with teachers can keep the librarian in touch with the curriculum, possible resources needed and the educational needs of the students. This means that the library can be a reflection and expansion on everything that has been covered in class and helps to promote further use of the resources available. Keeping in touch with students themselves can help to ensure that a collection is up to date with materials outside of the strictly academic arena; I doubt the Twilight series is included in most curriculums but excitement and popularity surrounding it would make it a perfect non-academic inclusion in a middle school collection. Not only this, but keeping in touch with the students can also help to ensure that you are familiar with population and demographic changes within the school that may affect choices in your collection.
Perhaps the hardest aspect of maintaining a collection presented is the concept of embracing change, especially when it comes to technology. The past ten years alone have given way to such exceedingly different technology that it seems deciding how necessary it is to have the same information available in multiple formats is walking a very fine line. On the one hand, if you are familiar with the community that you are serving, you should have a decent concept of what information would be most relevant in which format. That being said, keeping up with the trends of technology on a budget is quite the opposite of cost-effective. This can be problematic when trying to ensure that the collection has variety but also feels current. This may be an especially difficult problem in a school library where students may have a much faster understanding of technology and are very quick to employ such updates.
Evans, G. E. (2008). Reflections on creating information service collections. In Ken Haycock & Brooke E. Sheldon (Eds.), The portable MLIS: Insights from the experts. Westport, Connecticut, Libraries Unlimited.