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While I’m thinking about it….

We’ve got a bunch of specialized search engines:
In Yahoo! we can search Creative Commons content here. We can do the same in Google here.
We can search U.S. government sites here.
I can search university and college sites alone here.
I can search a lot of public blogs here.
I can limit by domain and country. Some topical searches are possible, but I am always getting questions like:
1. What public libraries have cool audiobook/talking book sites?
2. What are the interesting kids’ sites? Anyone doing online story hours?
3. What are the best ideas in teen sites?
4. What’s working for seniors now?
5. Who’s doing innovative stuff in virtual book clubs?
etc. etc.
I see lots of cool stuff but my brain’s Rolodex is weak. Meat cleaver searches on library stuff in generic Google is very unsatisfactory and still mixes wheat and chaff. I want just the public library context and searches just don’t satisfice me right now.
I know about Peter Scott’s great LibDex: The Library Index here. It only finds libraries – try searching ‘teen’ and get null results.
Soooo – Why can’t I search the content of all North American (or international) public library sites in one place? I’m not talking about their catalogues or OpenWorldCat. I mean their pages. How do we easily find all the cool stuff that public libraries have done?
Am I missing something somewhere? Does this exist already? It seems like such a useful thing for library website developers, owners and strategists to have. Right now searching for innovation in the public librarysphere just feels so hunt and peck. Could someone create a targeted harvest using a list of URL’s? Then we could share best practices, get better more quickly, allow innovation to diffuse more quickly, build on success… seems like a no-brainer.
At the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31st, that magical time, I think I’ll wish for this in 2006 (right after peace, health and happiness).
Just a thought.
Happy New Year!
Stephen

Posted on: December 28, 2005, 3:38 pm Category: Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. We used to have it by embeding metatags on the page headers, but the technology got so much over used by spammers and so much underrated by the search engines (the Search Engine Optimization industry was born to tweak metatags) that we lost that possibility. Nowdays, with the loss of authority the social web envisages ( everybody can be an authority on anything ) we are even more lost.
    In my country, usually a Public Library will be adressed on the internet by http://www.bm-TownNameGoesHere.pt but it does not solve anything.
    A new 2nd level domain notation could do the trick: *.lib.us, *.lib.pt, etc … but that’s a political decision at the IETF level (I think)… after all the universities filter is acomplished by the .edu ( and .ac.uk, etc ) tricks.

  2. I also came up with a blank when trying to think of innovative Canadian library web sites.
    http://scilib.typepad.com/science_library_pad/2005/12/innovative_cana.html
    I think the best current option available is to ask innovators to list themselves in LibSuccess wiki
    http://www.libsuccess.org/

  3. It won’t cover all of North America — nor even most of Illinois — but I’m working on a project (funded by a grant of LSTA funds awarded by the Illinois State Library) that will include a search engine for several hundred library websites in the northern part of the state (members of the Prairie Area Library System). Should be live in 6 months or so.
    Meanwhile, I encourage anyone who finds or knows about the kinds of “cool stuff” Stephen mentions to say something about it — even if you’re just adding a link — on the Library Success wiki at libsuccess.org. It’s gotten off to a nice start as an international best-practices-sharing tool, but most of the site is still undeveloped or severely underdeveloped.