Who needs a librarian when you have Google?

Sam Chada
Oct 31, 2013


While the actual date of the Internet’s birthday is widely contested, many say that the Internet was born over 40 years ago on October 29, 1969, at the University of California, Los Angeles, when a computer-to-computer message was sent for the first time from the UCLA campus to Stanford.

My first interaction with the Internet wasn’t until the late 90s when my family purchased our first home computer, Windows 95, with American Online (AOL) pre-installed. I was enamored with the ability to connect with other people via discussion boards and chat rooms and to browse various topics for homework help. At this time, content creation wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today, so it was easier to navigate the Internet.

Of course, with all the good comes some bad.  In the early 2000s the dot com bubble burst and sent the stock market spiraling out of control. During this time, we saw our favorite dot-com pioneers such as AOL lose their relevance. But we also witnessed other large dot-com companies, like Amazon and eBay, survive the turmoil and others, such as Google, become an industry-dominating mega-firms.    

Almost 14 years later, there is SO much information out there. The Internet fosters an environment that encourages anyone to become a content creator. Because of the plethora of information, librarians are often questioned about our relevancy in the 21st century and the age of the Internet. But who else is out there (other than librarians) to decode the information, curate it, interpret it, organize it, authenticate it, and integrate it? Who else is going to teach attribution and Creative Commons? Far from being a time of crisis, the times suit us. That’s why Forbes reports that ‘Library Science is a really hot degree right now’ – pointing out that librarians should be good at data-mining and market research.

Librarians have realized that Google is actually great for business. Dr. Alex Byrne, the State Librarian of New South Wales, notes that Google has ‘turned people on to information’ like never before.  As powerful as Google is, it does not pay for and provide access to the mass of information resources like CLEVNET provides. And as powerful as Google is, it does not provide a librarian to help you filter through millions of research results, then curate and create a playlist of amazing resources in just a few minutes.

As popular author Neil Gaiman has said, “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.”


The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

You are correct, Sam, librarians will never NOT be needed. For the exact same reason you quoted Neil Gaiman. There is so much out there, but learning how to filter that information can be both difficult and not necessarily something taught in school nor from a parent. Sometimes the lessons you and other librarians teach are even more powerful because you don't HAVE to teach them. Learning born out of desire and not obligation tends to last longer and be more meaningful (not to dismiss the influences of schools and parents, of course).

Also, thanks for the trip down memory lane with the story of your first Internet experience. Mine was similar on a Compaq Presario. I still have my old AOL 1.0 hnadle too! I am sure if I looked through my boxes I'll still find those installation CDs they spammed out in the mail/magazines. In fact I may still have an Intel Bunny Person plush around from their II or III series processors.

Stop It

Don't let them do this:


It would be cool at home, but well....I won't and refuse to be Assimilated.