Search Engine Librarians?

A few days ago, my dad sent me this blog post.  Does that happen to you?  Everyone you know sends you blog posts that relate to librar* & book*?  Well, I really enjoy it – because it means people are thinking about libraries.  It also gives me a window into what they think about libraries and librarians.  And it gives me a chance to push their boundaries.  More on that in a minute.

Super Librarian Poster. Available from Sarah McIntyre at:

I liked the blog post a lot – it’s sweet.  It was a post by the person who created the image to the right here, and she wanted to provide the file for download for free as she had learned that others were charging for it.  And so, if you are interested, you should go to the post and download her poster for free if you like it too!  My dad emailed it with the intent of spreading the librarian love (“hey here’s this blog post about librarians and how great they are, I think I’ll send it to Sarah”).  And it’s really a nice concept.  One that resonates with today’s public.  People find and access resources via search engines these days for the post part, and so here’s a little poster that reminds folks that librarians can be really helpful and important to the search process too.  All very nice.

But, it did remind me of another blog post I had seen a while back decrying the equation of librarians and search engines.  Rory Litwin, over at Library Juice, explains that librarians fill so many more functions than just search.  Librarians are selectors, organizers, curators, preservers, Litwin says.  I’d add teacher and technologist to the list.

I get what Litwin is saying, but I also see how the intent of such a phrase (that librarians are like search engines) is meant to be a positive thing; meant to make librarians less invisible in the search process for patrons.  So, I emailed my dad back that the post he sent was really cool – and I liked the poster a lot!  But I also sent him Litwin’s post and explained that librarians do a lot:  search, but also many things relating to organizing & providing access to resources, teaching, developing information systems, etc.  So we all learned something.  What a lovely thing – particularly apropos because my dad’s parting words every morning when I would head off for the day were:

Have a happy day, and learn a lot!

So, dear readers, I hope you have a happy day and learn a lot.


2 thoughts on “Search Engine Librarians?

  1. Hi Sarah!
    Checking out your blog… 🙂
    I agree the description “powerful search engine with a heart” is supposed to be a compliment. Of course librarians do more than search, as you point out, but people nowadays don’t think librarians are needed because they can “just go online and look it up”… and all search engines are not equally efficient or helpful. Remember before Google was dominant and before the algorithms had been tweaked, and you could use Lycos and AltaVista and Northern Lights and so on and so forth, and it could be really surprisingly hard to find what you were looking for? Librarians aren’t just a search engine, they’re a POWERFUL search engine, because they’re better at understanding what you need 🙂

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