This list has been making it's way around the biblioblogosphere. It's the Top 100 (technology) tools for learning, as complied by the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies. These technologies range from search engines to blog subscription services, from email applications to music-related services. All of them, though, make learning easier in some way.
As many people have pointed out, library-related technologies are missing from the equation and there is much speculation as to why libraries are absent. Is it a promotion problem? Are our websites too difficult to navigate? Are our databases hard to use?
If you look at that list, Google makes a very strong showing. After all, Google is a one-stop shopping experience. Through Google's customizable desktop (iGoogle) you can read your favorite blogs (Google Reader), use Google to search the web, find scholarly articles (Google scholar), and on and on. For many e-learners, Google is the online version of the Third Place.
So how do we, as libraries, create an online version of the "Third Place?"
I don't think it's by replicating Google. Sure, it's fine to emulate Google's method of putting everything you need to be successful in one place, ala iGoogle, but I do stop short of saying that libraries should all have websites whose front pages are blank screens with single search boxes.
But, like iGoogle, each element on our front pages should be meaningful. When a user comes to our website, it is their first impression of us. And, if we want our libraries to have more users and our users to have more meaningful experiences, we should make our websites useful portals. If you're an academic library, why not have a link from your homepage to the university's email system? If you're a public library, why not have a link to your town's newspaper's website?
I think it comes down to defining what your library thinks its "job" is. Google doesn't say "we're for searching" and that's it. So maybe libraries shouldn't say "we're for finding books and journal articles and that's it." Maybe by seeing ourselves as doorways to all information, we can be place from which our users start their trip into the online world rather than a place they come to from the online world.
Wouldn't it be fantastic if people had their libraries' homepages set as their Internet "start" screen instead of Google?