Funding for Project to Add Credibility to Web Search
The Reference Extract, a project to make it easier to find credible information in the digital age, has recently been awarded $350,000 by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to fund research and development. The planning phase began in November 2008 with a $100,000 grant from the MacArthur organization.
The Reference Extract is a collaboration of Online Computer Library Center (OCLC—the world's largest library cooperative), the information schools of Syracuse University and the University of Washington and Zepheira LLC (information management). This project will require the expertise and input from librarians worldwide.
Search engine results are mostly based on who links to whom. It is basically a popularity contest that easily can be gamed. The Reference Extract will look look only at sites that information experts find credible. Who are these information experts? Librarians.
If you look at almost any library Web site, you will find many curated lists of recommended Web sites from librarians. This is just one of the many facets of what a reference librarian already does. And the Reference Extract plans to add more than just Web sites, but also books, people, articles and many other types of credible resources.
The plan is that the Reference Extract will be a service that can be used on its own site, but can also be embedded into search engines and other Web sites. It will be a tool that will make finding credible information as easy as using embedded maps and video on Web sites.
Reference Extract leaders say the project will work best if the entire library community gets involved to create a Web-scale effort to support this cooperative innovation.
“The only way this will work is by making a project of an entire community,” said Dr. R. David Lankes, Director of the Information Institute of Syracuse and Professor at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies. “Web searchers get to tap into the incredible skill and knowledge of the library community, while librarians will be able to serve users on a whole new scale.”