Thursday, June 22, 2006

Searching Is Polarized; Will The Five Laws Get a New Revised Version: Every Search Engine Its Searcher

This is a running post: Updated 2 Oct, 2006

Is it all-ad-about polarization or an opportunity for libraries for re-invent the
wheel. Read the following and don't miss a survey result: Library Catalogue Users Are Influenced by Trends in Web Searching, Susan Haigh

Search Engines in 2006 are in news:
Thus observes Karen Schneider in her discussion of Top 10 Tech Trends:

Faceted Navigation – “any decent search engine for 2006 has faceted navigation.” Endecca as the example. source More on Faceted Navigation and Guided Navigation, see details

As seen from a recently published work, cited at the end of this article, the demand for library-based Web resources is yet to catch up. "The survey findings indicate that 84 percent of information searches begin with a search engine. Library web sites were selected by just one percent of respondents as the source used to begin an information search."*

Given this state-of-the-art of the library marketing and outreach, let us ponder on what is at stake. It looks like we are not sure of the problem:

Polarization is obvious in this information age. But who is causing and who is facilitating this. Consider the following:

i. Is the free Google-enabled search engine revolution leading the searchers to go astray (than be faithful customers of their own tax-based information centre); or
ii. The fee-based and IP-based (restricted access) offered by the libraries to their own community resulting in this state-of-affairs; or
iii. The libraries have not yet found the true meaning of every book its reader?

And, a related question, then, is about a spirit of live and let live. I think the librarians will consider moving a recommendation for the following as a New Revised Library Liturgy. I hope they will take up, at least, this issue in their respective annual general meeting (wherever it is held):
Search Engines are for Use,
Every Searcher His / Her Search Engine,
Every Search Engine its Searcher,
Save the Time of the Searcher, and
Search Engine is a growing organism.**

I will deal with this polorization in another article. Or, will respond to your comments, based on how you see this whole picture.

Let's now look at a terminological issues about this business of information searching.***

What are the words that express this business?
Supposing one says: online searching and database searching. Is it all about only one activity, viz., online search using the synchronous Web-based resources. Or, is it about first, searching the Web, and second, searching the library resources?

Or, if some one says I am looking for a tool "illustrating the differences between online searching and using the library databases.." Are these terms clear, and communicative or confusing and vague?
Libary of Congress Catalog has a title: online searching (1996).
The subject headings assigned are:
Information storage and retrieval systems--Science.
Information storage and retrieval systems--Technology.
Online bibliographic searching.

Another title: Online searching (1990):
The subject headings are:
Online bibliographic searching.
Database searching.

Yet another title: Searching the World Wide Web (1998):
The subject headings are:
Internet searching--Problems, exercises, etc.--Juvenile literature.
Web search engines--Problems, exercises, etc.--Juvenile literature.

In LISA database there is an article with a title: online searching
And the subject headings is:
Online searching
[LISA does not have subject headings, such as, database searching, bibliographic searching, etc]

Incidentally, there is more systematic debate going on on elsewhere and follow that as well.****

Despite this problem with the terminology, I searched the Web for some comparative studies of these two worlds, viz., (a) free domain (WWW), and (b) whatever is facilitated by the libraries. In other words, a) search using the Internet; and b) search using the library-based tools.

And, I have failed (despite Googling, Yahooing, MSNing, AltaVistaing, AllTheWebing, Lycosing, HotWireding, Exciting, etc.) to find any thing specific.

In short, I am looking for a research work that compares online information search with searching the library databases. May be it is too much to expect audio, video, webcasting, blogging, wikiing, podcasting, etc. on this subject. If you know please guide me. I will cite you with personal gratitude.

The Punch Line:
  • Paul Gandel. Libraries: Standing at the Wrong Platform, Waiting for the Wrong Train?, EDUCAUSE Review, (2005) Vol. 40, No. 6., pp. 10-1
  • A Word From the Guru
    Lest we forget, libraries had all the information at their disposal; and they did try to publish this collection in their own bookish style (Library Websites is a fashion tody). Is it ture that libraries forgot to index the contents, and published a book As-Is? May be. Then the Guru has a verdict for this scenario. Please Note.
    There is no greater authorial sin than releasing a book without an index. It should even be made an indictable offense. [S.R. Ranganathan in Library Book Selection] source:

    * Making “E” Visible, By Lesley Williams Library Journal, June 15, 2006
    Recently OCLC released “Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources” (, a survey of a representative sample of over 3300 online information consumers and their information-seeking behavior. The survey findings indicate that 84 percent of information searches begin with a search engine. Library web sites were selected by just one percent of respondents as the source used to begin an information search. Only two percent of college students start their search at a library web site. In fact, only 16 percent of respondents had ever used an online database and only 30 percent had ever used a library web site. Yet, 72 percent had used free search engines like Google. The report concludes, “…the majority of information seekers are not making much use of the array of electronic resources (online magazines, databases and reference assistance, for example) libraries make available to their communities.” Survey

    See also:
  • Finding Answers Beyond Web Search, By Gary Price, Guest Columnist, June 8, 2005
    PERSPECTIVE Sure, there is plenty of great content on the open Web, but it's far from "everything." Plus, even if what you're looking for has been crawled and indexed by Google or Yahoo, there is no guarantee that you'll create the proper search to have it appear at the top of the results page. To find what you are really looking for, all you need is a library card.
    Most searchers only look at the first page of results, and as large Web databases grow even larger it will become even more of a crap shoot to find what you're looking for by just entering a couple of words. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, for many searchers time is a massive issue. In other words, if they can't find it in a few minutes or even seconds, it might as well not exist. Sad but true.

  • **** Will Google’s Keyword Searching Eliminate the Need for LC Cataloging and Classification?, by Thomas Mann, This page was last updated on August 15, 2005.
    Google Print does not "change everything" regarding the need for professional cataloging and classification of books; its limitations make cataloging and classification even more important to researchers. Google’s keyword search mechanism, backed by the display of results in "relevance ranked" order, is expressly designed and optimized for quick information seeking rather than scholarship. Internet keyword searching does not provide scholars with the structured menus of research options, such as those in OPAC browse displays, that they need for overview perspectives on the book literature of their topics. Keyword searching fails to map the taxonomies that alert researchers to unanticipated aspects of their subjects. It fails to retrieve literature that uses keywords other than those the researcher can specify; it misses not only synonyms and variant phrases but also all relevant works in foreign languages. Searching by keywords is not the same as searching by conceptual categories. Google software fails especially to retrieve desired keywords in contexts segregated from the appearance of the same words in irrelevant contexts. As a consequence of the design limitations of the Google search interface, researchers cannot use Google to systematically recognize relevant books whose exact terminology they cannot specify in advance. Cataloging and classification, in contrast, do provide the recognition mechanisms that scholarship requires for systematic literature retrieval in book collections.

  • The Truth About Federated Searching
  • It’s Social Networks/Social Search for Web 2.0

    **My previous entries relating to the Five Laws:
    a) Save the Time of the Godly: Information Mediators Role in Promoting Spiritual & Religious Accommodation
    b) Case Studies from India: Evidence-based Librarianship
    c) The Reference Interview Through Asynchronous E-Mail and Synchronous Interactive Reference: Does It Save the Time of the Interviewee?
    d) Information Visualization: Innovative Practices to Connect Every Book, Its Reader, A Survey
    e) Every Book Its Reader - Ranganathan's Law Visualized

    ***apology for this trivia: words, words and words, all lost in the medium; it is all-ado-about searching, browsing, online, on-line, information storage, information retrieval, thesaurus, indexes, library databases, commercial databases in libraries, free versus fee, etc.
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