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I don't remember exactly where I saw it; but a while ago, on a T-shirt or a coffee mug or an online discussion list or somewhere, I ran across a catchy little slogan: "Librarians: The Best Search Engines"--or words to that effect.
At first I thought it was kind of cute and harmless. It's facile, to be sure, and I've subsequently seen it elsewhere; it's certainly not widespread (perversely, I did a little web searching for variants and didn't find very much). Even so, that phrase has stayed with me over the months and I thought it might be worth poking at it a bit to see what lurks beneath.
First of all, it raises the question: What is a search engine? The American …