Research, Innovation, and Imagination at Computers in Libraries

By Ojala, Marydee | Online Searcher, May-June 2016 | Go to article overview

Research, Innovation, and Imagination at Computers in Libraries


Ojala, Marydee, Online Searcher


THIS YEAR'S Computers in Libraries conference (cil.info today.com) took Library Labs as its theme, although few of the talks were explicitly about laboratories in libraries or even about libraries as laboratories. Instead, speakers concentrated on the subtitle of the theme, which was research, innovation, and imagination. Those three elements exist in libraries whether they have embraced the idea of a library lab or not.

The keynote speaker, David Snowden, chief scientific officer, Cognitive Edge, and honorary chair, School of Psychology, Bangor University, North Wales, put libraries' interest in innovation in the context of knowledge management. He began his talk with a comment about how people's perceptions of libraries have remained disturbingly stereotypical. When he tweeted he would be speaking to librarians, one response was, "Shhhhh." Turning his attention to real innovation, Snowden thinks it happens by chance discoveries. He likens it to walking into a bookstore where the books call to you from the corners of the store.

For online searchers, a main takeaway from his talk is the idea that we need "a new generation of generalists," researchers with multiple perspectives who can synthesize different ideas. Librarians need to rethink metadata and search to allow for knowledge discovery beyond mere information retrieval. Libraries should become spaces to gather stories. Radically new thinking that incorporates critical thinking and "engagement with the reality of a resource-poor planet" should be the ongoing emphasis of libraries.

SEARCH AND DISCOVERY

As a technology for librarians conference, Computers in Libraries presents ideas for invigorating all types of libraries. Search and discovery, as a combined track topic, is always on the agenda, but every year, speakers bring a fresh approach to the topic. Mary Ellen Bates, of Bates Information Services, shared her latest discoveries from the web search world: Use asterisks to find middle names in email addresses and to replace a term in a URL. Don't use parentheses to craft a Boolean search--it doesn't work in Google. Worse, it can misinterpret your logic. Watch your privacy settings in social media. Data mine the fee-based services (her example was from ProQuest Dialog's INPADOC patent database to find locations of R&D facilities). Image searching can yield data from graphs and charts, particularly on topics such as market share. She also urged her audience to teach "truth detection" and be myth busters.

Montana State University Library's Greg Notess promised 50 search tips in 40 minutes. As part of the tips, he gave a quick run-through of what's going on with advanced search--and it's not a pretty picture. You could almost see advanced search features disappearing as he talked. But let's focus on the positive. Notess recommends using the date limit, now that the web is getting older, and combining advanced search commands such as site: with a phrase search or an inurl: operator. Google is not the only search in town, he reminded us. Try Bing, Gigablast, and DuckDuckGo. Specialized search engines, such as Zanran, Wolfram Alpha, and MillionShort, also deserve mention.

Moving from web search to library discovery systems, Joe Deodato from Rutgers University, provided eight steps for choosing and evaluating web scale discovery services. Form an evaluation team. Educate library stakeholders. Schedule vendor demonstrations. Create an evaluation rubric. Issue an RFR Interview current customers. Configure and test local trials. Draft a recommendation report. Although the order in which Deodato presented these seems skewed to me, his final recommendations--to be inclusive, goal-oriented, data-driven, user-centered, and transparent--rang true.

MOBILE APPS

Gary Price, co-founder of INFODocket & FullTextReports, demonstrated 30 mobile apps in 40 minutes (dl. …

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