A Google Fail
Something happened to me last week that has been a rarity the last few years of my life – the internet failed me. I was looking for some information on a topic during my manuscript edit, and low and behold, I came up empty-handed. What followed was a brief succession of intense emotions, I’ll try to break it down for you.
First: Confusion. What do you mean, you don’t know, Google? You know everything! I must be searching wrong.
Second: Inadequacy. Obviously the internet knows the answer to this, perhaps I forgot how to read words.
Third: Disbelief. Oh my God, can the information I’m looking for really not be available on the internet?
Forth: Sorrow. (insert sobbing) I’ll just never know the answer now!
Fifth: Panic. I won’t, I won’t ever know the answer, oh God, oh no! I’ve spent so long working on this book, this edit, and for nothing, nothing! I’ll have to scrap the whole project and try painting!
Sixth: Acceptance. Google doesn’t know…I guess…I’ll have to look somewhere else…
It was a traumatic experience.
Technically, I did find information, but it was limited and conflicting. As someone who spent four years on a history degree, I’m a pretty good researcher, and once I went through this terrible trial, that fact did occur to me. Much like everyone else, I’ve come to rely on the internet. I expect information to literally be at my fingertips on any topic at any time. When did this happen? I’m not too sure, but it kind of depressed me. Once I snapped out of it, I wandered on over to the catalogue search (online, of course) at my local library, and again came up with nothing. That failure sent me over to the University of Western Ontario‘s library catalogue, and bam! Pay dirt. I shouldn’t have been surprised.
I exchanged emails with a librarian named David, told him what I was looking for and he got back to me with the name of a dusty old tome I should use. The university has it, but it’s in storage (not a popular volume, apparently) so now I have to wait for someone to go dig it out, then David will email me when it has made its way to a circulation desk. Once it gets there, I can go and use it.
You might be wondering why I mention this.
First, because it’s a sad state of affairs how reliant on Google I have become. Second, because it reminded me how many other great resources are out there. I went through my own books, books at my public library, and finally a university catalogue. If I would have emailed a research librarian right away, I would have saved myself two days of searching. There are so many great resources out there, and it is so despicably easy to forget to use them! When I was in university there were a lot of obscure topics I couldn’t find out much about on the internet, but I didn’t panic. I used libraries and librarians and spoke to people (actual human beings) who could point me in the right direction. I used microfiche and interlibrary loans, I dug around in archives. Not only did I find what I was looking for, I enjoyed the primary source material.
Now I’m just waiting for that email.
- Libraries Are More Than Just Basic Information (anniecardi.com)
- Rumors of the library’s demise have been greatly exaggerated (itworld.com)
- Librarians Help – And We’re Valued, Too! (sonderbooks.com)