There’s a lively discussion in the comments over at the Reference Extract planning site: some visitors are skeptical (to say the least) about the need for a search engine that gives results “weighted towards sites most often referred to by librarians at institutions such as the Library of Congress.”
But both teachers and librarians know that students encounter a great deal of non-credible and un-credible as well as incredible content on the web, content that students are all too prone to take at face value. And there are similar projects out there: KidZui, which we covered last month, is not just a search engine but an entire browser built to lead kids toward websites approved by teachers. New search engines such as Cuil, which we covered back in August, do emerge. So a project like this — and Reference Extract is an ambitious project–isn’t out in left field, whether or not it’s a Google-killer.
If you read through the proposal, there’s lots of interesting data to support the project, and there’s some good geek food for those who’d like to know how the search engine will work (they’re going to pull out and index the URLs from QuestionPoint and use the Find retrieval engine from OCLC, or possibly Nutch . . . oh, never mind). The folks who are going to build this search engine prove with studies and pretty graphs that librarians are perceived as credible and that different librarians do tend to send researchers to the same websites.
So what do you think? Would you be likely to use and encourage your students to use a search engine “built for maximum credibility”? -AMANDA FRENCH