This is a subject that interests me as a librarian. One the Five Laws of Library Science is to “Save the time of the reader.” Shiyali Ramamrita (S.R.) Ranganathan wrote these “laws” in 1931 and they are still taught as fundamental to library science eighty years later.
So, how does one save time? How do librarians save the time of the patron?
In Ranganathan’s day, saving the time of the reader meant to “create effective catalogs for speeding the readers' search for particular books.” (Cloonan & Dove) Today we aim to create effective search engines for speeding the users’ search for particular information. That has taken the form of providing “metasearching capabilities” – searching all kinds of resources (article databases, book catalogs, web pages) at once – and “link resolvers” – connections from citation indexes to full-text articles – so that users don’t just find out about the resources, but get immediate access to read them online. (Ranganathan Online: Do digital libraries violate the Third Law? By Michèle V. Cloonan & John G. Dove. Library Journal, 04/01/2005)
In the coming months, the Darling Library is changing its online system to one that searches for books, eBooks, videos, as well as online journal articles from research databases all at once. It will save you from having to search for books in the catalog and then searching for articles in each of the various research databases one at a time. It will be all in one. (Try the "Quick Start" version now!)
However, there is still the issue of evaluating the information that comes your way. Getting more resources faster is not necessarily better. It means having more potentially useful resources to consider sooner than your did before. What are you going to do about it? As we learned from last week’s post about how we suffer from brain freeze when faced with too much information, the decisions can be simple but regretable.
You can get help with that from your Darling Librarians. Librarians can save you time by giving you research tips and strategies and sending you in the right direction. We are firm believers in the Chinese Proverb:
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
We can teach you to fish, but fishing, like engaging in responsible research, still takes time.