ONLINE’s Got a Brand New Tag: Exploring Technology & Resources
By Marydee Ojala
Editor • ONLINE
Unless you’re in the publishing world—or a dedicated serials librarian—you probably don’t read the fine print of magazine titles. For the past decade, ONLINE has been “The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals.” Starting with this issue, our new tag line is “Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals.” Does this mean we’ve given up on leading the way for information professionals? Definitely not. What it does do is clarify what that leadership consists of and where our editorial concentration lies—with technology and with resources.
Exploring, for me, entails a combination of explaining, testing, and guiding. When it comes to technology and resources, my concerns revolve around whether it does what it says it does. Much as I love technology, I try not to fall into the trap of espousing a new technology just because it’s cool—or hot—depending upon which technology zealot, advocate, or missionary is waxing lyrical about it. Information professionals are practical people; we need to understand how a technology will help us do our jobs better, faster, and maybe even cheaper. Beyond the question of whether technology and resources do what they say they do is the equally important point of usefulness. Does your organization actually need this technology or resource? That will differ depending upon individual situations.
Technology is a moving target. Just when you think you know how something works, it starts working differently—or disappears entirely. I was quite taken with Knuru, a business search engine, but it’s been “undergoing essential maintenance” for months now, so I’ve scratched it off my list. Web search engines innovate constantly, but many of their new capabilities address consumer searching, not our professional searching needs.
Resources appear more static than they really are. Even content within premium, subscription-based databases changes more frequently than many researchers realize. As types of information proliferate—video, audio, social networking sites, blogs, and podcasts are only a few examples—and the amount of information increases exponentially, the trend is anti-aggregation. The one-stop shop is disappearing. Information overload is a real problem for serious researchers. Generalist searchers need to rely upon subject experts to point out the best, most qualified resources and how best to use them. We can’t simply rely upon Google to find resources for us. Information professionals are tasked with adding value to web searches. To do this well requires excellent search skills and common sense.
I believe that it’s ONLINE’s job to sift through competing claims, based on empirical evidence and relying on expert authors with strong technology and resource backgrounds. In other words, if you’re dying to tell the world what you know, if you like comparing and contrasting resources, if you’re the local “go to” person when a technology issue surfaces, if you want to blind your colleagues with your library science, then you’re probably just the right person to write for ONLINE. I invite you to contact me about sharing your knowledge and expertise.
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