How can libraries win back the users they have lost to search engines, wikis and open source programs? The Library of Congress, OCLC, the Research Information Network and the National Library of Australia all agree that changes in library database and catalog access could be the answer.
In his article featured in the 2011 issue of Art Libraries Journal, “From dominance to decline? The future of bibliographic discovery, access and delivery,” Martin Flynn compares reports by the four aforementioned institutions on the state of bibliographic access and delivery. Flynn highlights six topics: Users (libraries should define their user groups and allow for interactive features in their catalogues), Cataloguing (records should be simplified in order to support keyword browsing and customization), Catalogues (catalogues should take a nod from sites like Amazon, Google and Library thing by providing blurbs, weighing their search results to favor full text articles and include links to citations or to relevant similar materials), Remote Document and Content Delivery (Inter Library Loan currently only accounts for 1.7% of circulation in the United States, libraries should review their policies, allow for streaming of content and digital delivery), Serials (research libraries need to catch-up to Google Scholar by including metadata on journal articles and not just journal titles) and finally Library Management Systems (these should shift to being more user oriented than staff oriented).
Personally, I found the suggestions provided to be relevant as a student and library patron who often turns to search engines and wikis for “last minute” information (Flynn calls this “The Principle of Least Effort”). Furthermore I think that it is important for institutions to consider modifying their approaches to search and bibliographic discovery instead of full overhauls as these highbred systems will most likely prove to be more efficient than building new systems from scratch and definitely more cost and time effective.
Flynn, Martin. “From dominance to decline? The future of bibliographic discovery, access and delivery.” Art Libraries Journal. 36`.2 (2011): 33-36. Print.