Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Yahoo! Answers Challenge for Information Professionals

This one is especially for my librarian and pre-librarian readers:
For everybody else: we'll be back to women's health for the next post!

Librarian Gary Price expressed his own concerns about Yahoo! Answers here. Given the concerns I have about the quality of health-related answers over at Answers (previous posts here and here), I decided to set up an account and periodically contribute answers. I'm focusing on health questions due to my interests and aspirations in medical librarianship. I may periodically tackle questions in other subjects in order to keep my reference skills sharp. I recognize that most of you already are very busy with work, life, and/or school. However, if you have a few minutes each week to spare, I would encourage you to lend your skills to this site.

You may ask:
Why should I do this?: Because by choosing librarianship, you have chosen to commit yourself to bringing quality information to those who need it. Admit it, you're compelled to answer the unanswered and seemingly unanswerable. You are the kind of person who makes unplanned stops in a bookstore to look at a slang dictionary in order to prove a point about an odd word for "drunk." It's okay, you're not alone.

Where can I find the time?: The questions I've handled are pretty easy ready reference queries, taking no more than 5 minutes or so to dig up accurate sources. You can do a lot with a little here.

What's in it for me?: Okay, here's the part where we talk about devaluing librarian work by giving it away for free. I don't know the answer to that problem, but I'm not convinced that contributing your answers on the Yahoo site will make it much worse. What I do think is that working on assorted reference-type questions outside of your regular specialized library and community is a good tool for continuing education. Pick a question, search for an answer, keep your info skills up to date. Pretty simple. For the newbies on the job hunt, why not use your stellar question-answering as proof of your committment to information provision?

You can visit my profile and see what questions I've tackled here. I would encourage you to include some mention of "librarian" in your username as a way to promote the profession via a nontraditional route. If you take me up on the challenge, please post in the comments with a link to your profile - I'm looking forward to seeing your work. Next stop: librarian vs librarian Yahoo! Answers point challenge! :)

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MeSH Tags: Internet/utilization; Librarians


Anonymous lukethelibrarian said...

I totally agree. I signed up pretty soon after Yahoo Answers went live, for the very same reasons. As you can see from my profile, I've also been adding a tagline to my answers, along the lines of "Need the answer? Ask your friendly neighborhood librarian!" I think it's important for us to set the example in environments like this one and Wikipedia -- showing people by example what kind of resources are reliable, and how to create a helpful answer by backing up your answer with reliable sources. Way to go, Rachel!

11:10 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Nice tagline, Luke!

10:06 AM  

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