One of the sessions sponsored at the American Library Association annual conferences entitled “Googling the Better Mousetrap: Cyber Resources on the Front Line of Reference.” The LITA blog provided notes of the session.
During the session, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, said:
Users don’t care about the container! LIS schools spend so much time on encyclopdediae [sic], almanacs, gazetteers, etc.
True! This has become my criticism of many digital libraries. They expect you to know the container to look in rather than allowing you to search all of the containers at once. If they don’t want to provide federated search options, then they should at least put all of the containers together so that the user can see them all at once. Don’t separate the fee-based services from the full-text journals and ready reference sources.
Also don’t separate the local digitized content from everything else. We – the creators of the content – know that it is different and why its different, but our users do not. Find ways of integrating the digitized content in with everything else. For example, place records for it in your library’s catalogue. Link to it from various locations on your web site. Tell people how it relates to the other content that you own.
However you do it, remove the idea that the user must know what container to look in. Merge the containers in whatever ways are possible. Remember that it is not the container that matters, but what is in the container.