I’ve just been looking at a presentation Stephen Abram put together for Edmonton Public Libraries in Canada. In it he states that 72% of library users trust library content more than Google content, but 81% still use Google.
I wonder if this 81% still use Google because they open up their internet browser and Google is there, ready and waiting for them?
Maybe if they thought about it they’d go elsewhere to do their searching? Maybe they’d go to a specialist search engine for their particular subject need eg. Healia (health), Scitopia (science and technology) if their browser directed them there.
If they are going to Google by default, or because their browser directs them there, and the majority of library users have more faith in the information libraries can provide them, shouldn’t we be trying to make this easier for them?
Most libraries are in a good position to do this if they provide their users with computers on site that allow access to the internet.
How about putting a start page on your computers that contains an obvious internet search function. Not a tiddly little widget, stuck in the corner somewhere, but a big box that clearly shows it’s for searching the internet.
Why not make this search box emphasise library resources your library service provides, as well as information held elsewhere on the internet?
Why not provide some weighting to sites outside your resources? eg. sites you’ve bookmarked on delicious.com that are a really useful resources in a specific subject area. Indicate that your library service recommends these resources and tell them why. Don’t make your users trawl through millions of webpages looking for a resource you already know exists. You can give users the opportunity to trawl through those millions of web pages, if they really want to, if they really think they’re missing out on something by not searching Google, but try to emphasise your library service recommendations.
If they’re looking for a book via this search method, offer them the book in your library catalogue as the first result, rather than pointing them straight to the Amazon catalogue. Or, if you do offer them the book to buy from Amazon, create it as an affiliate link from your library authority – that way you can generate some income for yourself.