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Google irks health librarians

In search engines on November 5, 2009 by Danielle Tagged: , , , ,

An article published not too recently on HCPlive has irked a few health librarians on LIS-Medical. This excerpt in particular seems designed to rub us the wrong way:

Forget your local medical library and PubMed and use Google Scholar to search for scholarly literature published in the form of peer-reviewed pieces, theses, books, and abstracts from any number of scholarly organizations, including professional societies, universities, and academic publishers.

One librarian has responded to the piece with enthusiasm, suggesting she had become fed up with PubMed. The Krafty Librarian has sounded off about PubMed recently, to say while PubMed had always hidden the controlled vocabulary, the MeSH, it had become even more hidden with the recent revamp. Is this a full-on backlash against PubMed, or a few disgruntled individuals?

I find myself not wanting to agree with the librarians who slated the HCPlive article. I would like to think that the words ‘forget your local medical library’ are indeed fighting words (to light a fire under our sometimes complacent bums). Can our local medical libraries not compete with Google Scholar, seeing as they have must have full access to this free search engine, and many more databases and resources that may not be free or as ‘user friendly’?

I disagree with the librarian who insists that doctors are at danger of ‘wasting their time’ by engaging with new web technologies such as apps. This is downright patronising to doctors-why should they not be allowed to keep up to date on their own, if they want?

He also stated that to miss out the apostrophe in ‘Crohn’s disease’ was a calamity in Google Scholar. No it isn’t-check out the ‘Did you mean’ suggestion at the top of the results. Google is great for spell-checking!

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2 Responses to “Google irks health librarians”

  1. Online search is here to stay, that’s for sure. I find Google Scholar to be an invaluable research tool. That said, few things are stored in Google Scholar itself. It relies on PubMed and other databases for its information. One can’t replace the other–the relationship is symbiotic. And there will always be a need to visit the library. The challenge is keeping them open when fewer and fewer people actually walk though the door.

  2. I think Vicky brings up a good point about the symbiotic relationship between Google and PubMed. In my opinion, this is how this conflict should be dealt with as online search continues to grow. These are two incredibly valuable assets and if they are ever to be fully “meshed” together correctly…well…it would be extremely useful for a lot of people.

    Now, I don’t do a lot of technical research myself and I’ve always accepted the fact that in order to get to the “good stuff” it takes more than just a few Google queries, but I can definitely see the potential when it comes to these two totally different assets coming together as opposed to being at conflict. Anyhow, it’s definitely an interesting conflict.

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