Libraries Can Fight Back

Visionary and funny man, Stephen Abram first set the scenario with all the things that Google’s announced lately and its MANY initiatives – scary stuff! The company has bought 6 social networking companies. We let them read our e-mail and tell us what we want. Soon, Google will control all the ads, all the wallets, all the broadband,etc… So, in the closing keynote for the event, he provided his Top 10 Strategies for competing with Google. Sage advice in my book.

1. Know your market. He mentioned the Normative Data Project that aids market understanding. Know what’s circulating. Understand geographic use.
2. Know your customers better than Google – or you’ll lose. He mentioned the “Personas” project that helps in understanding needs, preferences, and desires of users. Check out the article in the latest Computers in Libraries. Educate yourself on the characteristics of “millennials” (“They can think rings around us.”) and also other populations, like older folks. Google does “satisficing” where librarians meet Real Needs.
3. Be where your customers are. How much of your usage is in person? What about IM?
4. Searching for the target… Federated search should not look like Google. Build compelling content – in CONTEXT!!!
5. Support your culture. Get your texthead to “nexthead.” Move beyond vinyl recordings. Adapt to video and streaming media. Podcasting. Start learning now!
6. Position libraries where we excel. Google does who, what, where, when, who, how questions really well. Google sucks at how and why questions. Libraries’ core competency is not delivery of information. Libraries improve the quality of the question. The question is what’s important. Libraries are an “exploration space” not a collection space.
7. Be wireless. The next massive wave of innovation will start in 2006/7.
8. Get visual. Explore visualization technologies, like Grokker. (Most librarians are text-based learners and it takes us longer.)
9. Integrate. Build community context first – learning, research, neighborhood, workplace, culture/entertainment.
10. For Pete’s sake, take a risk.

And, his last word – focus.
We, as librarians, have to learn that when we study something to death, Death was not our original goal. Pick something, do it well, and move on.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.
www.infotoday.com
phane@infotoday.com



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