Monday, November 28, 2005

"It's the User, Stupid":
Interesting link found on Jenny's Shifted Librarian blog: story in Library Journal, What I Wish I had Known, by Roy Tennant.
Considering the recent discussion on NewsLib about why newspaper libraries are being downsized and how they can be saved, some useful food for thought here. Tennant, although discussing public libraries and how they need to keep up with technology, says a library...or librarian...who doesn't learn how to do things better, doesn't think of the end user, won't succeed. Some tidbits:
...I wish I had known that it would be important to learn a web-scripting language and not be beholden to a small number of systems programmers.
...I wish I had known that many debates that took up so much intellectual time and effort would turn out to be inconsequential or moot.
...I wish I had known that the solution for needing to teach our users how to search our catalog was to create a system that didn't need to be taught—and that we would spend years asking vendors for systems that solved our problems but did little to serve our users.
...We can learn things from Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, Flickr, and others that are charting new courses. We can either humbly and gratefully receive these lessons or allow our hubris to defeat us.

Does this resonate for news librarians? It should. We want to be information providers, trainers, and experts. But are we thinking of the end user? Shouldn't news staff be able to use the company's information resources as simply as using Google? Why not? Isn't it the job of an information center to make information easy?


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