Russell Palmer from LYRASIS (formerly PALINET) spoke on Google Gems for Reference Librarians. He talked about using Google for a calendar, stock quotes, news, a phone book… He spoke of Google Sets – they let you fill in missing information (books in a series, all of Santa’s reindeer). Google News Archive can be used for genealogy as it can go really far back into newspaper archives. It’ll give you a time line to choose from and allows for phrase searching (though there will be a nominal fee to access the full text article). Google Books – it may not be the edition you want, but at least you can read it. Google Scholar – a reference librarian said that one of their ILL librarians was able to find 144 articles they’d been searching for forever in Google Scholar, yet could only find about 1/2 of those in their 60 article databases (probably because Google Scholar is so much easier to search)!
The best thing that came out of this presentation was the discussion about what a huge need there is to train K-12 students especially on how to be discerning and do research properly (someone pointed out that teachers these days are getting younger and having grown up with Google, don’t see any of its limitations).
In the next presentation I attended, Bob Danford, Director, Wolfgram Library, Widener University gave a talk on Blending and Cooperating: Not All Unintended Consequences are Bad. He talked about responding to their student’s needs by opening a 1/2 hour earlier so papers could be printed for early classes, which delighted their students. Then when they wanted to close the computer lab as it wasn’t convenient, they were able to bring the computers into the library – this gave students extended access to computers and increased librarian/student interaction and the number of computers in the library. This let them eliminate time restrictions on the computers. But then the students needed to edit their papers, so they decided to put the necessary software on all the computers. The students liked having help close by. This invigorated the librarians as they were able to be a lot more help to a lot more people, which of course is quite affirming. This has made his job easier as the library is obviously now more integral to the university, so it’s easier to advocate for it. It’s also helped them develop training that focuses on what skills are needed to help the students (mostly computer related).