We need to focus our efforts not on teaching research skills but on
eliminating the barriers that exist between patrons and the information they
need, so they can spend as little time as possible wrestling with lousy search
interfaces and as much time as possible actually reading and learning.
This is so true. I can remember going to the Eltham library when I was 9 or 10 and doing searches for Mum who said she couldn't find a book because she couldn't think like a computer. Much of Web1.0 was like that - if you weren't a natural born geek or couldn't learn how to do it the computer's way, it was never going to work for you. These days, search tools are more intuitive, acting much like people expect them to (most people anyway) but there's still room for improvement within everything from the library cataloge to the databases to... name it.
People need to be able to sit down, find what they need and feel confident in doing so.
Dr Wendy Shultz offers this exciting thought:
There are SecondLife3 subscribers who spend more than forty hours a week online, immersed in its virtual graphic world. Digital natives take 2.0 for granted; they are buzzing over Web 3D. Carrying Chad and Miller’s argument through this next phase transition, we arrive at virtual collections in the 3D world, where books themselves may have avatars and online personalities. But the avalanche of material available will put a premium on service, on tailoring information to needs, and on developing participatory relationships with customers. So while books may get in your 3D face all by themselves, people will prefer personal introductions—they will want a VR info coach. Who’s the best librarian avatar? How many Amazon stars has your avatar collected from satisfied customers? This could create librarian “superstars” based on buzz and customer ratings. People will collect librarians rather than books—the ability not just to organise, but also to annotate and compare books and other information sources, from a variety of useful perspectives.
As one of the "Digital Natives" all I can say is - sign me up! The potential would be huge!