Discovery and Metadata 11.04.2020
Computer algorithms are ubiquitous in our society. Although algorithms, such as the one used by Google search, may seem objective, there are years of research that prove otherwise. Computer algorithms are developed by humans and reflect the biases and worldviews of the people that developed them; they are often not inclusive of all cultures, identities, languages, and ideas. Biased algorithms can have harmful outcomes. Libraries are not exempt from algorithmic bias. Auraria Library licenses and purchases products that use algorithms for things like, relevancy ranking, filtering search results, recommended resources, and more. We acknowledge that biases exist in these systems.
Because of the many years of research that have exposed bias in search algorithms, tech companies are attempting to reduce biases and make their search results more objective. Auraria Library uses a product called Summon for our primary search system, (we call it “Start My Research” on the library website). Summon is a product that Auraria Library licenses from a company called Ex Libris. Ex Libris is interested in reducing biases in their search results. The best way for them to improve their search algorithms is for us to tell them when we encounter search results that are biased. If you use Start My Research, and have experienced unsatisfactory search results or facet filtering, take our survey now. We would love to hear from you.
If you are interested in learning more about algorithmic bias in library discovery systems and other technologies, see our staff picks on this topic.