15 June 2005

Tales of a librarian

Bad Librarian strikes again:
Another important issue, and one that is true of books as well as the web, though the latter much more so, is, of those 39,000 [Google] references to "Take On Me, lyrics", how many are actually providing the correct lyrics? I would venture a charitable guess at maybe 100. So how then does one go about filtering through that massive amount of data for accurate information? (My example here loses some steam, but try finding conclusive, non-contradictory information about say… genital warts for example… yeah…) The answer is by cross-referencing and multiple sourcing, a librarian's bread and butter.

Learning to decipher information — particularly in our current proto-fascist universe of fake news — is just as important as finding it. With the amount of information accumulating each day in both the virtual and physical realm, our task, as consumers and purveyors of information, becomes less about finding the data and more about filtering it, as responsibly and unobtrusively as possible. I am continually surprised how many intelligent people will take something for truth on the web without even thinking about where the information is coming from, without even checking who supports the website. [...]

As the digitization of the information universe moves along, sorting the wheat and chaff will become even more complicated, and having people around who are trained in just that kind of sifting — that is, librarians — will certainly be handy. The profession will certainly have to grow as the search for information becomes more technical. Programming may become as necessary of a skill as knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System (though that probably won't be necessary much longer), but the need for librarians, or really, human search engines, will increase as technology's capacity for information storage rockets along.

In short, yes, the internet has challenged the role of the librarian. If anything, it's just made it a more interesting job. Anyway, somebody's got to be around to say "SSSSHHHHHH!!!"
(Via Bookdwarf)

Erik Wennermark's first column: "Beware What Americans Are Not Reading."

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