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David Rothman writes this very insightful commentary about why Google is friendlier than proprietary databases.
"Public librarians love to talk up library databases as a free way to access high-quality information. But wait. There is something you may give up in return--your sanity, considering the Rube Goldbergish tortures that librarians or at least their database vendors often inflict on innocent users.
So far this morning I've struck out in my efforts to use two of the three databases that I've tried from the library system here in Alexandria, VA. One worked but lacked the article I needed, while two others won't let me use the information on my library card--those 14 infuriating digits. Adding to the joys, I've suffered an arrogant, jargon-ridden error message associated with BigChalk Library, a gem that would do Microsoft proud. Via the message, the library system or at least BigChalk is asking me to scale back on privacy protections--rather ironic, given library world's laudable fight against the Patriot Act. I'm hardly the first to raise these issues, at least the usability ones; but as a public library booster, I hope that my thoughts will serve as a useful reminder of the problems. More at TeleRead."