G is for Google, H is for Harry, L is for Library… and ten ideas about public libraries in a Google World


As promised in my presentation at the State Library of Queensland, here are my slides with audio commentary that I recorded at my desk a couple of days before flying to Queensland.

The event was called “Libraries in a Google World” and aimed at public librarians. I was the first speaker so I wanted to set up some background information, ensuring that we were all on the same page for the panel discussion afterward. I also wanted to raise some ideas that may be worth debating afterwared.

I ended up really focussing a lot on Google search and how it is different from the information environment that public libraries are creating for their users. I wanted to make sure that when the audience next heard “semantic search” or “triples” they realised that they should actually be paying attention and working out how this may affect them, rather than presuming that someone else has to think about these concepts.

Here is the video of my slides, G is for Google, H is for Harry and L is for Library .

The ten ideas that I suggested for public libraries were:

  • Idea 1: Use consortia to provide the generics. I don’t care if you think that you can’t get along
  • Idea 2: Focus on the deeply local. We have a remit to get our local information and history digitised, metadata added and available for online search and remix.
  • Idea 3: Not all of our potential users obey the law when obtaining content
  • Idea 4: Illegal content supply is a hidden competitor
  • Idea 5: Public libraries should not be funded to serve everyone. Everyone should be welcome, but many users will use other information sources. We should focus on those who really need us – those without information access due to disability, illiteracy, poverty, discrimination or age.
  • Idea 6: Hybridize. Drop the word “library” if necessary. We may find ourselves converging with art galleries, museums, archives, records offices and public broadcasters and will probably need to share expertise, staff and venues.
  • Idea 7: There is no Gympie branch of Google. Value Venue.
  • Idea 8: Democracy, advocacy and community are out points of difference from other information suppliers
  • Idea 9: Report outcomes not outputs
  • Idea 10: Stop doing one thing, then another


2 thoughts on “G is for Google, H is for Harry, L is for Library… and ten ideas about public libraries in a Google World

  1. Thanks for your talk today, I learnt a lot.
    Kids now in bed and I am trying to look at all the new sites, apps and ideas that were mentioned!.

  2. It is 10pm, I am supposed to go to sleep now but I am here listening/watching your talk about G H L!!! PS, you have a nice voice =)))))

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