In the future, librarians need to prepare users to navigate a profoundly different informational landscape. Addressing issues of information overload and informed selection of both search tools and results, the purpose of this paper is to cast the collaborative relationship between librarian and student in the mode of an outfitter: a guide preparing a client for a journey. Within this context, the authors emerging role involves guiding students through the task at hand using critical thinking skills to access a wider range of publications to meet a broader range of needs.
Metaphors created by Raymond and Friedman reflect the current state of information, the relationship users have with these sources, and the role librarians play in a disintermediated environment. In The Cathedral and the Bazaar, Raymond portrays a decentralized environment as a bazaar. In The World is Flat 3.0, Friedman describes how technology flattens organizations through empowering end users. The informational landscape in the twenty-first century is decentralized, and more powerful search tools provide unparalleled access to these sources. Users, however, continue to experience problems finding their information. A librarian/outfitter can prepare users to effectively track information in the new environment.
In the twenty-first century, a broader range of sources are available, and search engines are turning to dashboards to prioritize the growing list of results. Users need to adapt to the new environment through viewing the search as an activity rather than a destination. Librarians can help this process through sharing their expertise in uncovering likely places relevant information may be found, in evaluating sources, and locating information in a larger context. Through developing the meta-skill of information management, librarians guide users through the process of finding information for personal, professional, and academic needs.
The author’s goal is what it has always been: empowering end users to successfully access needed information in a disintermediated environment. Today librarians need to emphasize a fundamentally different set of skills in the interactions they have with students and faculty. People can use dashboards and satisficing to find sources they need, but librarian/outfitters can introduce a broader range of sources and tools suitable for completing specific tasks. This paper illustrates the different skills needed to effectively find information for personal, professional, and academic tasks.
This paper provides a new context for the process used for locating and validating information in an increasingly broad and diffuse informational landscape. Librarians become advisors in navigating a more complex informational landscape that is used to meet a broader range of informational needs. While focusing on navigating the broader range of resources through decoding dashboards and satisficing techniques, the author can assist users in overcoming information overload and advocate a broader sense of satisficing through using more sophisticated critical thinking skills.
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