Discovery Services Helpful for Finding Content, but Don’t Minimize Time We Need to Spend on Search Strategy and Info Literacy Instruction

Sitting in a Sunrise Seminar about a discovery service this morning, it occurs to me how much there is to teach library users and how little time we have to teach (not to mention how little time they have to learn!). Discovery services like to hold themselves out as  offering single search across all library holdings – the holy grail! Single search across the “entire collection.” But these services are all, to some greater or less extent, dependent on publisher- or subject indexer- provided metadata.  They are a great help in terms of increasing content discoverability, but they do not negate the need for a discerning evaluation of search results and they certainly don’t show everything available in a library collection.

The rise of library-involvement in teaching evidence based evidence (EBM) means instruction and education librarians need to spend lots of time understanding and developing courses around EBM. Instruction sessions on PubMed and/or MEDLINE and/or CINHAL search strategy are a must. Training on specific databases or resources.  Library orientation and library services awareness sessions.  The list goes on. So many ESSENTIALS.

The rise of discovery services (to say nothing of the elephant-in-the-discovery-room, Google!) makes information literacy — being a discriminating searcher and consumer of information — more important that ever, not less.  We all know are still a long way from achieving the single search holy grail.  We need to make sure library users know it too.