Talking about creating useful digital collections at WebWise 2007 yesterday, Dr. Deanna Marcum of the Library of Congress opined:

… it is not enough for us to create the perfect finding system, we know from all the user studies that individuals who are looking for information go directly to the open web, and our marvelous catalogues are not getting used. We have to find ways to take our content and the metadata and move that content to the open web. And until we do that, I believe we face a high probability of spending much, much, much money on developing bibliographic structures that are only used by a limited number of people. I know that in any organization when people are really good at what they do, it is very hard to abandon those systems. It is not enough to say ≈ìwell, users should use our catalogue.¬ù

Well let's think about how users are finding what they need and go where the users are. What we've always wanted to do. We have talked as librarians about how we want to get information into the hands of the people who need it. We now have the mechanism.


We have the opportunity to do what we've always said we want to do. Why aren't we doing it?

This is critical insight. I hope other library and museum people are listening …

Thanks to Holly Witchey, blogging at Musematic, who transcribed the Q&A (and covered most of the Conference). The original question to Dr Marcum that began the conversation apparently came from Murtha Baca of the Getty Research Institute:

What are some of the ways we can combat the idiotic idea that if you scan everything you get good access to it?

Talk about your strawman sans antecedent. I don’t think many people are seriously suggesting any such thing, but it gets the conversation started, right?

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