A patron asks about interlibrary loan policies at the library. The chatting librarian is from a library far away and is staffing the chat service as part of our 24/7 Cooperative service. The chatting librarian does a search using a search engine, locates a web page which appears to be the ILL policy for the patron’s library, then sends the link to the patron. Great session, yes? Well… no.
We know not everything is available via search engines, and the information you find in a search engine is not always up to date. Generally, the search engine only serves up whatever has been indexed. The currency of the indexed information depends on how often the search engine has "crawled" a site (crawl = revisit the site for purposes of indexing). How often is the average library website crawled? Every month or so? If the library site has been updated since the crawl, the updated information is not visible to the search engine. Results may differ depending on the search engine you use.
But you don’t need to resort to a search engine when helping a Coop patron – use the policy pages! The policy pages contain the most up-to-date information about the library.
Just this week, a session was reported to Quality in which the chatting librarian relied on a search engine to find information about a Coop library’s ILL policies, and alas – the information found in the search engine pointed to outdated information that was no longer on the current library website. This is a good example of why the policy pages should be your first stop for information about library policies (and the importance of making sure your own policy page is up to date). If the policy page is silent about a particular policy, then consult the library webpage – and the URL for the (current!) library webpage is available on… the policy page!