Educational CyberPlayGround ®

Virtual Cybrarian - Librarian Indexing Resources

What skills and knowledge to librarians possess that search engines don't?



US libraries were once protected from blanket requests for records of what their patrons were reading or viewing online, but the legislation rushed through after after 9/11 threatened to wreck this tradition of confidentiality in ways that presaged later discoveries of bulk telephone and internet record collection. In 2005, four librarians from Connecticut also successfully fought a FBI request to use national security letters to seize reading records and hard-drives, forcing the government to drop the case and back off. “When people were asked 'who do you trust, some librarian, or the attorney general?', they said 'I trust my librarian',” recalls Emily Sheketoff, head of the ALA's Washington office. “You can throw the attorney general up against us and we beat him because we are the ones spending every morning doing story time with your toddlers and we are the ones - when you have been given a devastating health report - who help you find information on what this means,” she adds. “There is this close, close relationship with people and their library.” Such boosterism might be dismissed as civic nostalgia in the age of Google, but the evolution of libraries from print depositories to digital gateways has put the ALA in the rare position of being one of the few large lobby groups in Washington representing consumers of information rather than producers.

  • Librarians have critical thinking skills that allow them to look at a question from many angles before working on the answer.
  • Librarians understand nuances that aren't contained in the text of a book or web site.
  • Librarians have muti-dimensional problem solving skills. They understand that questions could lead to more questions and answers could lead to more problems.
  • Librarians recognize differences in their users that search engines have yet to learn. Humans know more about human motivation than computers could ever understand.
  • Librarians ask questions. They are taught to ferret out the researcher's real question through reference interviews. Researchers often don't know how to ask the right question to get the answer they are seeking. Reference interviews aren't set questions and answers that a computer can put forth and understand. They are discussions between two human beings that lead to a better understanding of the question by both parties and better answers for the researcher.

Brewster Kahle Tweet Brewster Kahle

Digital Librarian
Internet Archive Way Back Machine @internetarchive @openlibrary

The Nation's Largest Libraries: A Listing By Volumes Held (and other library-oriented fact sheets)

The Nation's Largest Libraries: A Listing By Volumes Held (ALA Library Fact Sheet Number 22 )

The American Library Association (ALA) has just placed online an updated fact sheet listing the the 100 largest libraries in the U.S. by volumes held.

The list includes academic and public libraries as well as the Library of Congress. Data sources are provided as well as definitions of “volume.” One definition for academic libraries and the other for public libraries.

Top Five:

  1. The Library of Congress 32,818,014 Volumes Held
  2. Harvard University 16,250,117 Volumes Held
  3. Boston Public Library 16,141,095 Volumes Held
  4. Yale University Library 12,519,514 Volumes Held
  5. University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign 11,686,060 Volumes Held

ALA Library Fact Sheets, including:

  • Number of Libraries in the United States
  • Library Operating Expenditures: A Selected Annotated Bibliography
  • Library Products, Services and Consultants
  • Weeding Library Collections: A Selected Annotated Bibliography for Library Collection Evaluation
  • Library Fund Raising: A Selected Annotated Bibliography

"Ten years after some experts predicted the demise of the nation's system of libraries as a result of the Internet explosion, the most current national data on library use shows that the exact opposite has happened..." Full Report

Going Virtual: Technology & the Future of Academic Libraries PDF 2007




  • The Virtual Reference Desk
  • Community College Library Consortium
    24/7 Virtual Reference: This product provides reference service using the Internet to chat and co-browse and/or push web pages. Through it library reference is available 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. Trained academic reference librarians and library students provide the service.
  • OPAL, an International Collaborative Initiative by libraries of all types to provide cooperative web-based programming and training for library users and library staff members. These live, online events are held in an online auditorium where participants can interact via voice-over-IP, text chatting, and synchronized browsing. OPAL allows library patrons and library staff members to participate in online library programs from anywhere. Everyone is welcome to participate in OPAL programs, and libraries of all types are encouraged to become OPAL members.

Cybrarians - Librarians - Indexing

Library of Congress Virtual Programs & Services

  1. Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA)
  2. State Libraries of the USA
  3. American Memory
  4. Directory of Accredited LIS Master's Programs
  5. Current News of Libraries, Internet, and Education
  6. Resource for online K-12 libraries
  7. American Library Association
  8. American Association of School Librarians
    A division of the American Library Association, AASL promotes the general improvement and extension of library media services for children and young people.
  9. Video Librarian Online - - video review guide, for librarians and fans of video, news reviews, searchable databases, current industry news.
  10. The OCLC member libraries
    include all types of libraries: research, university, public, corporate, government, and school libraries.OUR OF PRINT BOOKS - it doesn't seem to matter whether they're technical or not.
  11. Am. Society for Information Science (ASIS)


Witness to the Decline of Books A Librarian Sees Readers Check Out Jan. 20, 2007,By Thomas Washington
When I started in this profession five years ago I used to teach English I presumed that librarians were mostly united in their attraction to books. But as I moved along in my library science program, I found that books weren't really our focus. Information management, database networking and research tools claimed the largest share of the curriculum. In other words, literacy today is defined less by how English departments or a librarian might teach Wordsworth or Faulkner than by how we find our way through the digital forest of information overload. Typically, many people in my line of work no longer have the title of librarian. They are called media and information specialists, or sometimes librarian technologists. The buzzword in the trade is "information literacy," a misnomer, because what it is really about is mastering computer skills, not promoting a love of reading and books. These days, librarians measure the quality of returns in data-mining stints. We teach students how to maximize a database search, about successful retrieval rates. What usually gets lost in the scramble is a careful reading of the material. <snip>
Conventional wisdom has it that teenagers don't read because they're too busy. Only after high school, sometime midway through college, do young adults reconnect with their childhood love of reading and make books their partners for life. I don't think so anymore. The 2004 Reading at Risk report by the National Endowment for the Arts concluded that literary reading was in serious decline on all fronts, especially among the youngest adults, ages 18 to 24, whose rate of decrease was 55 percent greater than that of the total adult population.

GOOGLE is certainly not organizing Committees and Task Forces to present Resolutions. Google is just doing it. You can protest that it's not original, that it's not well-implemented, that we've done better all along. It doesn't matter, because we don't have a cluebird from hell what we're doing, so we are unable to explain to people that the same articles they are buying through Google Scholar are available for "free," as we refer to tax-supported resources, through their library Web pages. And who can blame our users, when we present balkanized and badly-configured pots of content here and there, and then preen that we did not "dumb down" the interface to the point where anyone could actually use it?...]

Indexing Links



American Society of Indexers (ASI): This is the place to be if you're an American indexer, and they have a lot of information about indexing. A listing of available indexers is located here as well. More links to relatedprofessional organizations, publications, a bibliography, and other ASI news.

Tennessee Regional Group of ASI: A great site to catch up on news and views about indexing. Terrific online newsletter published bi-monthly.

Indexing Education and Resources

USDA Graduate School: Correspondence courses in Basic and Advanced Indexing as well as other editing courses.

INDEX-L: A discussion list for indexers and related professionals.

FREELANCE: A discussion list concerning issues relating to starting and running a freelance editorial/indexing business. To subscribe, visit this site and follow the directions on the site.

CINDEXUSERS: A discussion list for indexers who use Cindex dedicated indexing software to share tips and enhance skills. To subscribe, visit this site and follow the directions on the site.

Indexing Research: Home of Cindex dedicated indexing software.