Back in November I had the opportunity to meet and interview Jeff Jarvis at a conference here at Yale. His talk was fascinating and the interview (embedded below) was interesting as well. I promptly had our library order What Would Google Do and was not disappointed. This book is a must-read for librarians.
Jarvis starts by outlining how Google has changed, well, everything. He discusses the importance of links, relationships, being public and searchable, and the importance of using data to support business decisions. The second part of the book is more of a thought exercise, with Jarvis (and sometimes his blog audience, and others) discussing how Googlethink might be applied to various industries.
He even manages to apply this Googlethink to the restaurant industry, one that would seem to be incompatible with it. But his description of a potentially Googleized restaurant is fantastic. I want to see this happen. He also tries applying this thinking to lawyers, even mentioning Westlaw, Lexis, and Fastcase and how Googlethink may change legal information.
Libraries are never covered in the brainstorming session. It would be easy to dismiss the exercise for libraries, and say that we already know what a Google Library would be, Google is already building a library right? But this would be a cop out. The value in brainstorming about partnerships, opening our collections and processes, and re-examining our own roles in the current information ecosystem cannot be understated. Doing this through the lens Jarvis provides is very worthwhile.
For example, Libraries would be be well-served by some of Jarvis’ most important lessons. He says, “decide what business you’re in,” and “do what you do best.” Deciding what business libraries are in and what we do best has not been librarians strong points in recent years.
Reading What Would Google Do will hopefully give librarians something to think about as they start trying to answer some of these questions.