If librarians had invented Google…

Earlier this term, I co-presented sessions for our MBA students on ‘Information sources for market analysis’ to support them in the projects they were undertaking with businesses in Cambridgeshire.

While prepping for this lecture I started to think about the eternal problem of how I could impress upon the audience the importance of going beyond Google to our premium databases (i.e. the ones we pay for).  I also wanted to spell out the differences between free and fee and the pros and cons of each option, with the ultimate goal of  proving that our resources win hands down.  This content got me to thinking about how different the information world would be if librarians had come up with Google themselves. How would it look? Would it have been as successful? Would anyone use it?

It seemed a natural next step to take the question out to the Twittersphere, mainly because I felt sure I could gather some humorous quotes to use in my Powerpoint. And so it proved. A selection of the best responses I received – from non-librarians as well as librarians – follows:

If librarians had invented Google…

  • the logo would have been beige rather than multi-coloured
  • it would be more precise but far less friendly ;o)
  • it would be phenomenally difficult to log in to
  • those prudes would have blocked all the porn
  • the web page you actually want would never be available when you wanted it
  • it would not only point you to resources but teach you how to use them too
  • it would also be able to lend you a pencil and fix the printer
  • it wouldn’t have such a strong brand but the information would be organised well
  • it would be less than half its present size
  • would it even be in the vocabulary?
  • there would be a ranking system to show the authority level of a source
  • you’d have to scroll through an interminable list of instructions before you got to the search box
  • no-one would know about it
  • you’d have to click at least three times before you got to the search screen
  • our professional future would look much rosier
  • the layperson would understand about indexing
  • the world would be a better place
  • you could fine people for not coming back!
  • it would have a cluttered interface
  • its name would be an acronym
  • another less organised search engine would be the world’s favourite
  • the web would be properly indexed and as a result you’d get more focused and relevant results

The last one was the main point I wanted to make to the audience and judging from the numerous follow-up requests for help using the databases they seemed to take it on board. Many of the negative, if funny, ones beg interesting questions about why we librarians do things the way we do and whether we can do anything about these constraints. Surely we can do more than we’re doing at the moment?

Any more, for any more? If you want to add to the list please do comment below…


One thought on “If librarians had invented Google…

  1. wikiman, the says:

    What about… we librarians would have lost the opportunity to have Google’s good points positively influence our own systems?

    This a great idea, by the way! Makes you wonder what other instructive things you could potentially apply the ‘If Librarians invented’ question to… Is there an #iflibrariansinvented tag on Twitter?


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