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Help build a library question and answer custom search

Daniel and I were talking yesterday about his new blog at the Alaska State Library. We thought it’d be a great idea to build a Questions and Answer Google Custom Search aimed at indexing library blogs that post answered reference questions. Think about having 1 search interface to all of the library answer sites on the internet? It’d be better than MetaFilter and answers.com put together!

So far we’ve got 5 sites in the custom search: Reference Question of the WeekHomeless Law Blog, Radical Reference, Stanford Library Information Center, and Since You Asked.

We think this has potential to show off librarian expertise and librarian selected resources. If you are blogging your reference questions and answers in a way that preserves patron privacy, please leave us a comment or email us (admin AT freegovinfo DOT info) the link to your blog. If you’re not currently doing something like this, but plan to, would you let us know that as well?

This search engine is not specifically focused on documents, but it would be great to have docs Q&A’s represented. Here’s hoping you can help.

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  1. Project Wombat (previously known as Stumpers) would be an excellent addition — http://project-wombat.org/ It’s a long-running mailing list for librarians (and others!) to help other librarians answer tricky reference questions; there’s a lot of information in the archives.

  2. jrjacobs says:

    thanks for the suggestion Deborah. I didn’t see the archives on their site, although they mentioned that they were working on getting them up. Do you know if/when that’s going to happen? As the site is now, I don’t see any use as they don’t actually have any Q&As accessible to the search engine at this time. But if anyone would like to help them out, they’re looking for volunteers :-)

  3. jrjacobs says:

    I just found the archives! It’s been added to the custom search.

  4. dcornwall says:

    Added Catherwood Library’s Question of the Month service at http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/library/research/questionOfTheMonth/archive.html

    Looks like they’ve been posting Q&A’s since September 2001.

    ———————————— "And besides all that, what we need is a decentralized, distributed system of depositing electronic files to local libraries willing to host them." — Daniel Cornwall, tipping his hat to Cato the Elder for the original quote.

  5. PJ says:

    We have done this on our blog: posted recently asked (and answered) reference questions. We have the reference librarians cull some interesting or frequent Q&A and share them very sporadically. http://blog.lib.umn.edu/lawlib/lexlibris/reference/

  6. jrjacobs says:

    Thanks Gerrit. I read the SAL and will check out his question of the week. I’d highly recommend that reference librarians push this at their libraries. not only would it help me build a better search engine of tough reference questions that librarians answer, but it would help each library build their own knowledgebases. And don’t tell me that your administration won’t let you run a blog. There are free online services galore (I like http://wordpress.com) that could be set up in 2 minutes. Just do it! and let me know.

  7. Brian Herzog at Swiss Army Librarian posts a reference question every week.

  8. I made a Google CSE that finds book discussion guides and questions. You can find it here.

    Please let me know if it’s useful!

  9. jrjacobs says:

    Hi Melissa. thanks for the heads-up. That’s a good use of the custom search engine. But I’m looking for sites that post reference questions and answers. Can anyone help me out?

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