At the recent Summit On Discovery, thoughts on our present information delivery model were strong. Most would acknowledge that there are problems with regard to discovery in the libraries (why else would we have a summit to address them?), but feel, perhaps, a little bit overwhelmed at the prospect of delivering or even imagining any kind of comprehensive solution. There are a variety of factors in play that all coalesce into a big, indiscernible, difficult "thing" that nobody wants to touch.
It must be said that from a pure technology standpoint, we certainly have the capability to deliver a vast improvement over our current information design and retrieval model. The dilemma that we are facing is not exclusive to our library and has been substantially addressed, if not more-or-less solved, elsewhere. We should keep in mind at all times that it is not only doable, but our responsibility as a library to do.
At the conclusion of the summit we were invited to a "demonstration conference" on discovery in April which will feature the following themes, verbatim from the invite:
- single search interface (federated searching, harvester type platform, etc.)
- open-source vs. vendor infrastructure
- information seeking behavior of different users
- social networking and web 2.0 features as related to discovery
- describing primary sources and other unique materials for discovery
- opening the library catalog for different record types and materials
- any aspect of discovery
Many here and elsewhere among the vast audience of this blog may have ideas that are relevant to these themes, but may not be interested in formally presenting them. That doesn't make them any less important. Chances are, if you are thinking it, someone else is, too. Do you have any ideas about information discovery in the libraries? Have you seen examples of advances in this area having been carried out in other libraries, or anywhere else? Do you have strong opinions? Weak opinions? WDS' goal is to take a problem and solve it. If we are to factor into the solution, we won't be able to do it without your input. Help us help you!
P.S. The first response in the comments will go down in history as the very first ever on the Webbin' Rebels blog!