LITA Program – The Ultimate Debate: Who Controls the Future of Search?

Date: Saturday, June 24
Time: 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Place: Morial Convention Center 388-390

Be it resolved that the future of search will occur without library influence. Will libraries continue their vital role in the evolution of search, or will we be left in the dust by Google and their ilk? You won’t want to miss this provocative debate on the future of library influence on search technology. Come and be a part of this Ultimate Debate, sponsored by the LITA Internet Resources Interest Group.

Moderator: Roy Tennant. The debaters: Stephen Abram and Joe Janes.

The debate will be guided by several questions, including:

  • Will search services offered by large commercial companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! replace the need for libraries?
  • Should libraries cooperate with commercial companies by giving them our metadata and/or content (Open WorldCat, Google Scholar, Google Book Search, etc.)?
  • What qualities would Google Scholar, Microsoft Live Academic, or similar free commercial search services need to have before libraries abandon the creation of their own metasearch services? Or has that point already been reached?
  • Will libraries incorporate some of the better dot-com search technologies into their own search products, such as their catalogs? For example: better interface design, relevance ranking, alternate spelling suggestions, faceted browsing, etc.
  • Will our users’ increasing familiarity and comfort with large central search services like Google and Open WorldCat render local library catalogs obsolete?
  • What is your worst nightmare and your finest vision for the future of library search services, and what is your level of confidence in achieving either?

In addition, audience members will be invited to pose their own debate questions.

6 thoughts on “LITA Program – The Ultimate Debate: Who Controls the Future of Search?”

  1. Well, Karen, you are eminently qualified to participate, and I can only say that you should speak to the people who organized it. We three men were asked by the organizers to participate and could only say yes or no. The session was organized by women (at least those I corresponded with), so I doubt they meant anything by the gender imbalance.

  2. It is clear that academic librarians are being disintermediated with respect to digital information. We don’t own most of our digital collections, we license them and connect to them. (If we keep this up, academic libraries will be reduced to an accountant and a proxy server.) Other trends, such as open access publishing, have a similar effect. Since, say, DLib or PLOS:Biology are freely available on the web, anyone can access them without using the library as an intermediary. I am afraid that academic libraries may become “book museums,” primarily serving as stewards of physical items without being engaged in contemporary scholarly communication.

    I think libraries could play a role if, as a profession, we adapt. Why should we engage at all, why not just let time pass us by? Because we have a set of values that serve an important role in society and we can express those values if we change. What we have to do is find a way to participate in the creation of high quality online content. Basically, we have to be publishers: build IRs, digitize special collections, and provide publishing services for serials, ebooks, and new forms of content.

    Lastly, in reponse to Karen’s question above, my IG (Networked Resources and Metada) is sponsoring a program here in New Orleans on digital rights management in institutional repositories that features three excellent women speakers: Denise Troll Covey (former DLF Fellow), Carol Hixson, and Karen Coyle. (We have some dudes too.) Check us out.

  3. I’ll submit that “the future of search” is way sexier and more visible than “DRM in institutional repositories.” More important? probably not. I’m just intrigued and frustrated by what feels to me like the overwhelming dominance of men in hot topics. I’m not pointing fingers–the comment that women did the selection for this panel presumes a statement I didn’t make–but I’m observing.

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