Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Johns Hopkins Has the Best "Search Engines"

This 2004 piece from the Hopkins Gazette by University President William R. Brody is a nice tribute to librarians. Trying to think of finding a new and marketable search engine, Brody writes,

"Then the light went on! Full of Google-envy, I suddenly realized that we already have the ultimate information search engine right here at Johns Hopkins. It's one that is readily accessible and highly trusted. And it can be used to locate important references from credible sources, without getting a lot of extraneous garbage. Just think of what this Hopkins search engine would command on the NASDAQ market.
Therefore, any day now, two prominent New York investment banks will announce the initial public offering for, the newest and most powerful search engine yet — better than Google, Yahoo, MSN and AskJeeves by a long shot. Already traders have lined up across the world to purchase shares. Why this excitement? It's all in the discernment. What is so great about is that when you perform a search, say on "16th-century weapons of mass destruction," you will get only one or two dozen references — the ones that are really meaningful and helpful — rather than the 50,700 that came up in the Google search I tried.
What is this great technology, you ask? Well, JHUSL stands for the Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries. You see, our library has the most effective search engines yet invented — librarians who are highly skilled at ferreting out the uniquely useful references that you need. Rather than commercializing the library collections, why not export to the public market the most meaningful core of Hopkins' intellectual property — the ability to turn raw information into useful knowledge.

I hope by now you realize that any talk of taking our library public is simply to emphasize the point missing in all this Google mania: Massive information overload is placing librarians in an ever more important role as human search engines. They are trained and gifted at ferreting out and vetting the key resource material when you need it. Today's technology is spectacular — but it can't always trump a skilled human.
Have you hugged your librarian today?"

(Emphasis in bold added by this blogger.) O.K., hugs not necessary, just support your local libraries. Thanks.

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