The Librarian and the Information seeker – A simple tale of a librarian who triumphs with Google as a trusted sidekick.

Librarian

We all have in our little toolbox of talents information-seeking skills. We are born curious, hungry to learn. We seek out, absorb, and assimilate knowledge. Over time, we learn to be more discerning about the bits of information we choose to take in, and naturally filter out information we deem to be irrelevant to our needs.

As a librarian, I try to facilitate that process for the information seeker.

It does not surprise too many to know that most library workers are well-read, educated people. What does tend to surprise though is that I hold a Masters-level Library qualification and that most career librarians hold that qualification. The Master’s degree provides the information professional with the foundations for understanding the information landscape – where information is created, how, by whom, for whom, and for what purpose. Does a Master’s degree really make a difference? Sometimes it does.

A Postgraduate client came to me for help to find a piece of information that I managed to track down quickly. The look on her face was priceless. “I spent all day looking for this, and you find it in 10 minutes.” she said.

That does not always happen, by-the-by, but when it does it is glorious. I am not ashamed to admit to a little bit of librarian smugness and all I really want to do is take a picture of her face and send it to those decision-makers who believe libraries and the skills of librarians are obsolete because we have Google.

I’m not really going to sit here and vilify Google. I love Google! Most librarians do. It is our dirty little secret. Because of Google, I have learned to make my own shampoo and conditioner from baking soda and vinegar, acquired the skills to fold a fitted sheet neatly, and diagnosed any number of illnesses and ailments, including leprosy (I survived).

I also used Google to answer the query I mentioned above.

I’m not going to criticize how the client executed her search strategy either. She was not without skills. She did everything right, everything that I initially thought to do to search for the answer to her question. But unlike her, and this is where the librarian training does come in handy, I was able to come at the query from a different angle, not as a researcher looking for the information, but as a creator wanting to distribute the information. Once I did that, finding the information was easy.

It is on the fringes of these information-seeking behaviours where librarians add value to the researcher. Librarians don’t live solely within the confines of the “Library”. We see the value of Google, Wikipedia, social media and how they fit into the information framework along with more reputable sources. We know that knowledge comes in many forms, exists in many different types of repositories and we know how to leverage that value for our users.

Because it is our users that create demand and drive collection management practices. So, where are they, where are our users? A question that will be discussed in the next blog post by guest blogger, Troy Tuhou.

Manuhiri

Manuhiri works at Te Tumu Herenga, the University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services. With an undergraduate business degree and a postgraduate library degree, she has been a business librarian for over 15 years. As a librarian she has learned to value knowledge in all its forms - books, artworks, social media, the carvings on the walls of a meeting house, the wisdom in the minds of our older generation. Create, learn, engage, share. Because it is all taonga (valued objects). Inspired by the Māori and indigenous academics and PhD students in the Business School, this year she enrolled as an MCom student. Her research topic is Māori leadership communication. She is primarily interested in how communication shapes and influences decision-making and what this means in terms of outcomes for Māori. With a father of Ngāti Kauwhata descent and a mother from Ngāti Tūwharetoa, growing up her home was often the scene for mock verbal battles of tribal dominance. Mum was the victor in most encounters, but dad had control of the TV remote. So everyone was a winner at the end of the day. Some day she would like to be the owner of a Newfoundland puppy.

5 comments

  1. Thank you Manuhiri! You are the bomb-diggity.com! This is an interesting blog and why I love it is because of the humility you and our other Maori and Pacific librarians have. We are so grateful to have you, Troy, Rukuwai, Judy, Anahera and the rest of the whanau there at the library to answer our (sometimes stupid) enquiries, that we dare not ask anyone else. It is heart-warming to know that one of “our tribe” is there to back us! I had the same experience as the lady looking for stuff on my Maori topic. Nothing came up in my searches and next minute you direct me to 16 references – legend! What I love most is that my possibly warped view of a librarian is totally not what you and the team are. That’s why I feel so comfortable to approach you and use the library services. Don’t know how I would make it with out you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • So rewarding when the work you do makes a difference. And your comments also reflect something I always acknowledge when I talk to my clientele – that while I am the most visible library presence to my clients, there is a body of support that I rely on to be able to deliver the service that I do. Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi. Engari, he toa takitini. Success is not the work of one, but the work of many.

      Like

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