In what has become an annual tradition, Tuesday evening’s session proved lively and controversial discussing the topic of "Scholarship on the Web: Flying High or Free Fall." The three panelists — Anurag Acharya, the father of Google Scholar; Jay Girotto, leader of Microsoft’s Windows Live Academic Search effort, and Juris van Rossum, the new head of Elsevier’s Scirus — faced an audience of librarians who had questions to ask and issues to raise. Rich Wiggins of Michigan State University held the panelists to answering each and every question. He even asked them which source of the three represented each would use for medical searches if their sister or brother were very ill. All three gulped and proclaimed truthfully that they would use all the sources they could find.
How much would you care to bet that all three organizations have new and/or expanded policies toward scholarly blogs in place within six months? I’ll give you odds, if you insist. That issue jumped out early and often. Controlled vocabulary was another theme held by a strong and vocal contingent in the audience. The panelists explained different factors that influenced inclusion of sources and relevance ranking of results.
Clearly the audience recognized that scholarly search engines were playing an ever increasing role in the lives of students and faculty, a role that would only grow in years to come. The last question of the evening emphasized that point. It asked what the audience and the librarian community could do to insure that scholarly search engines would grow into tools that could satisfy the needs of users everywhere. Help with standards, both their development and their use. Bring publishers into the fold, filling gaps. Identify the blogs that matter. Bring us your students and faculty.
Time’s up. Cookies and refreshments in the foyer. Rats! We were just getting started!
From left to right: Anurag Acharya, Jay Girotto, Juris van Rossum
Barbara Quint (the virtual presence on the phone)
Editor of Searcher