Letters to the Editor


D-Lib Magazine
July/August 2003

Volume 9 Number 7/8

ISSN 1082-9873

To the Editor

The letter below was received in response to the article, Google Meets eBay: What Academic Librarians Can Learn from Alternative Information Providers, by Anne R. Kenney, Nancy Y. McGovern, Ida T. Martinez and Lance J. Heidig, in the June 2003 issue of D-Lib Magazine.

As a longtime Google Answers Researcher, having been with the project since the week of its launch, I was surprised and pleased to see a well researched and well presented article that, for a change, did not portray Google Answers vs. Librarians as a mortal battle between "Us" and "Them".
In the immediate weeks following the launch of Google Answers, there was quite an outcry — librarians fearful the service would threaten their livelihoods, overenthusiastic technophiles predicting that this was the end of libraries as we know them, and a general feeling that there was no way librarians and Google Answers could exist side by side, much less in a cooperative effort. Thankfully, a year later, it's apparent to all but the most narrowly focused that we *can* and often *do* work together to ensure that our mutual clients get what they need — information to assist them in their studies, businesses and quests for personal knowledge.
The article was eagerly received by the Google Answers Researcher community, and has served as a terrific starting point for discussion about what we can learn from the techniques of reference librarians to help us achieve our goal of serving our clients well.
It was very heartening to see a professional publication urge librarians to stop worrying that we're a threat, and start thinking about how to use us for the advantage of their patrons — something many GARs have been saying since the project launched. Far from wanting to put libraries out of business or compete with them, we appreciate the value of libraries and their skilled professionals; several of our number are either professional librarians, students currently undertaking librarianship studies, or people who served as volunteer librarians in high school and college.
I do have a few minor corrections to offer. While most of the policy information offered was correct at the time of the study last July, some things have changed in the meantime:
-- Bid range is a minimum of $2 and a maximum of $200. Tips are capped at $100.
-- Researchers may lock questions for two hours, unless the question is bid at $100 or more. Then the lock holds for three hours.
Up to date information can always be found at
<http://answers.google.com/answers/faq.html> and
Thank you again for a well done study. It's refreshing and gratifying to see an article promoting the cooperation of GARs and reference librarians, instead of one pitting us against one another in a non-existent war for patrons.


Maggie Brazeau (missy-ga)
Google Answers Researcher

D-Lib Magazine welcomes letters related to digital library research and electronic publishing issues. Also welcome are letters with questions or comments about the magazine in general, or about articles appearing in the magazine. Please do not send letters that are primarily commercial, promotional, or advertising in nature.

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Copyright© 2003 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/july2003-letters