|courtesy of t1ffan1e, on Flickr|
Oh hell no! Facebook changed its interface?! What happened to my News Feed? What’s a Ticker? Where’s my recent activity? I’m so filled with rage over this new layout that I’m leaving Facebook for good! Just like I left Facebook the last time there was a major redesign…less than a year ago. And in 2009. And 2008. And 2007. And dozens of times in between. Just like I went to Canada when Bush was elected.
Which I totally didn’t do. For all of the huffing and puffing about redesigns to Facebook, we all know what’s going to happen: people will get used to it. Just like we get used to the periodic redesigns to Google or Twitter or any of the other services that dominate our online lives. Trust me, when Facebook announces its semiannual big redesign next summer, you’ll find pundits everywhere threatening to pack up and move to Google+ if Zuckerberg so much as thinks about doing anything to our precious Ticker. Life goes on, right? But, in the middle of this backlash against the Facebook redesign, I think library instructors should pause and take note…
In your face, interface!
What do all of the following have in common:
It should be fairly obvious what they have in common: none of these are current search interfaces. But, these interfaces are only from last Fall semester. That’s right. This is how we researched just 12 months ago. JSTOR, Gale, ProQuest, and LexisNexis have since made some changes:
How can we learn from Facebook?
I think we can learn a lot about library instruction by reflecting on what happens when an important service like Facebook changes in drastic ways. Specifically, we can learn from the fact that, except for a vocal minority, most users quickly adapt to the changes and carry on with their lives. So, let’s ask ourselves, “How much of our library instruction will survive similar, drastic changes to academic databases?” How well does our supposed “information literacy” instruction survive past graduation and the loss of library privileges? We know that Facebook users will carry on with the service after a major overhaul, so how do we get library users to do the same?
I don’t have any global answers; I’m sure that most of you smart instructional librarians out there are well beyond these sorts of questions. But, for what it’s worth, the instruction program here at UTC (a.k.a. the best damn library instruction program ever) has taken notice of the shifting uncertainties of database design, and we’re down for the challenge. I won’t bore you with a rundown of our curriculum; you can do that on your own; And I’ll be revisiting this topic in the near future anyway. But, I would like to point out some of our guiding principles: We don’t teach to the database, we use the database as a teaching tool. We teach how databases are similar, not how they are different. We embrace transfer of learning. We focus on the world of information, not the world of library resources. I guess you could say we do lots of stuff. But one thing we don’t do is assume that the places we tell our students to click will be there in the morning.
So…about updating those handouts?
|by evilpeacock, on Flickr
“Greetings, friend! Have you heard the
Good News about keyword searching!?”