Hekman Library’s Hidden Role in Google Searches

The path from a web search to a web source is not obvious. And more often than you realize, Calvin’s Hekman Library is a waypoint on that path. A Calvin student in her dorm room types "early onset multiple sclerosis" in Google and finds the link below in the results list. Two clicks later the scholarly article is on her screen. If asked at that moment: How important are libraries? She would probably answer, “not very.”

But let’s take a closer look at the path. She began her search on Calvin’s campus and ended at SpringerLink, the website of the journal publisher Springer. Along the way, the request was routed to the authentication database at Springer. The database confirmed that Hekman Library pays a subscription for that article for use on Calvin’s campus. So SpringerLink allowed the student to read the article. Without the involvement of the Hekman Library, clicking the above link would have led the student to a dead end.

SpringerLink contains 4.7 million articles. Every article is discoverable through Google, and every article is accessible to anyone on Calvin’s campus. Cancel the library’s subscription to Springer journals and all the knowledge in those articles becomes inaccessible. Now consider that the Hekman Library subscribes to the journals of more than half a dozen major publishers like Springer. Conservatively, that means that 25 million articles are available to Calvin students and professors via Google only because the Hekman Library budget pays for that access.

So how important is the Hekman Library for teaching and learning at Calvin? Very.

- Posted September 30, 2013 by Glenn Remelts (9:37 AM)