[This post concerns mainly libraries serving a campus of patrons - public libraries or those with a general public mission have other concerns]
Google is not the enemy. Nor publishers, nor vendors (entirely - but I wouldn't turn my back on a vendor in a dark alley).
The library role based on having/holding content is diminishing. More and more libraries (particularly science libraries) no longer hold collections but instead license content.
Moreover, the role of a library as a search enabler is also compromised by technologies. WebOPACs and ILS systems, federated search platforms are diminished by the fact that they are either not client-oriented interfaces (WebOPAC), or that if others don't the job better - they at least are further up on the list of patrons first stops on their research journey (Google, Google Scholar, Scopus, etc).
So, what to do? Turn your adversaries into allies.
Libraries will not be a starting place for researchers - deal with it.
Libraries will not be the holders of information - the value of "collections" is diminished - deal with it.
How? Libraries still have a valuable role - to be connectors to information.
Indeed, encourage patrons to search anywhere/everywhere! Go to Amazon if that meets your needs, browse wikipedia, start at your favourite journals website, use Scopus and other tools if you have access! I believe that it is the job of the library to get patrons to information - regardless if that information is in our collection or not. And regardless of where the patron decides to begin their search.
It is possible, with a small set of commodity technologies to bring access to patrons no matter where they start. In order of importance:
- Link resolver - connects your own technologies and 3rd parties to appropriate copies and information services for your patrons.
- Proxy server - allow off-campus access to IP-restricted resources. Alternately, you might use Shibboleth or some other kind of authentication/authorization mechanism.
- Federated search - Allows for broad searches across local, remote, paper and digital collection. Not a silver bullet - but at least your patrons are not expected to perform 30 searches on 30 different data sources - and still remain generally unaware of the vast quantity of expensive resources you license on their behalf. More importantly perhaps, a federated search platform can be the foundation for your "discovery layer" - hooks and landing areas to connect multiple information services and sources together. In a rare instance, a patron might even begin their search there - but I doubt it. Finally - at the very least - the patron will not be forced to look at your WebOPAC... nobody should have to look at that. Apply all the lipstick you want.
- Library Toolbar - You can make one for your library via LibX in an hour. This is for me the paradigm shifter. It is well known that patrons rarely start their search at the library. Don't try to change patron behaviour, go with it! If they start their search on a 3rd party website - the library toolbar should travel with them on their research journey - pointing out places where the library can help them. Oh, I see a ISBN, or a citation, or a DOI - here's a link back to your library to find out more information or get more services!
- Other goodies - Alerting, citation management, visualization, analysis tools, recommendations, facets, personalization... all of these and more can be tacked onto the federated search and link resolver... you're adding more and more value!
Why are we afraid of Google and others? Don't fear them, embrace them! And connect patrons from wherever they go to where they need to be.