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Neverending Search: What you (and your students) really need to know about online searching and search tools! Overview MAR*TEC video What searching looked like back in the day: Search, don’t surf! It’s a trillion page Web!

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neverending search

Neverending Search:

What you

(and your students)

really need

to know about

online searching

and search tools!

  • MAR*TEC video
what searching looked like back in the day
What searching looked like back in the day:


Search, don’t surf!

It’s a trillion page Web!

Just because you live on the Web, doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to use it more effectively and more powerfully!

It’s a fact:

We already know

how to

use the Web!


Effective searching








the right

type of

search tool



Staying up

to date

four tips fsre for sure
Four tips: FSRE (for sure?)
  • Focus—What is your mission or question?
  • Strategize—Which search tools will you use? Which keywords and search terms will you use and how will you express them?
  • Refine--How might I improve my search results?
  • Evaluate—Which results will you visit? Which sites or documents are worthy enough to use? Did I do good work?
good searchers also
Good searchers also:
  • Use peripheral vision--they mine their results for additional search terms
  • Consult several search tools
  • Make use of advanced search screens
  • Search the free Web and subscription databases
  • Use appropriate syntax (the language specific to the search tool they are using)
  • Use search strategies
  • Modify or refine their searches (Searching is recursive!)
what does a good researcher look like
What does a good researcher look like?
  • Springfield students . . .(3:07)
  • Do you feel competent?
  • What skills?

True or false?

  • Web search engines can locate every page on the Web?
  • Search engines are the only search tools on the Web?
  • Webmasters can fool a search engine into ranking a page more highly in its search results

Eileen Stec, Rutgers, ALA

Preconference 1/03

pre process your search terms
Pre-process your search terms

Bernie Dodge

Step Zero: Seven Steps to Better Searching

research question how effective are drug abuse prevention programs for young people
Research Question: How effective are drug abuse prevention programs for young people?

Recognize the importance of

brainstorming and strategy

Connect with “ANDs”

when do you really need or
When do you really need OR?

OR is generally used for synonyms or related words.

not as a refinement technique for problem words eagles not philadelphia martin luther not king
NOT as a refinement technique for problem words eagles NOT Philadelphia“Martin Luther” NOT King
rockwell schrock s boolean machine
Rockwell Schrock’s Boolean Machine

let s play boolean aerobics
Let’s play Boolean Aerobics!
  • Stand up if you have brown hair AND brown eyes
  • Remain standing if you have brown hair AND brown eyes AND are wearing glasses
  • Remain standing if you have brown hair AND brown eyes AND are wearing glasses AND are wearing something blue
phrase searching
“Phrase searching”
  • One of your best searching tools!
  • Use only for legitimate phrases, names, titles
      • “vitamin A”
      • “John Quincy Adams”
      • Titles “An Officer and a Gentleman”
  • Phrase searching is sometimes overused: Remember: not every group of words is a phrase
  • Sometimes “ANDing” or “NEARing” are better strategies
advanced search screens
Advanced Search Screens
  • Google
  • All the Web
  • AltaVista
  • HotBot
a question is not a query
A question is not a query

How many buffalo remain in the United States?

how to structure a good query
How to structure a good query
  • Brainstorm several key words and phrases—the ones you think would appear and wouldn’t appear in your dream document
  • Anticipate synonyms or be on the look out for them as you search
  • Put most important words and phrases first.
  • Consider phrases—which words are likely to appear next to each other in exact order in good results? Use quotation marks to search phrases, as well as names like “Martin Luther King” or phrases like “vitamin A” “Raisin in the Sun”
  • Focus on nouns (verbs are often vague, stop words, like articles—a, an, the—are ignored by most engines)
query tips continued
Query tips (continued)
  • Consider alternate forms of words (truncate when you can) adolesc* for adolescent, adolescents, adolescence
  • Check your spelling. Bad spelling usually turns up bad hits
  • Follow “more like this” or “similar to” leads for your best results
  • Mine result lists for important words, names, and
  • phrases you didn’t think of originally.
  • Use lowercase letter unless you are searching for proper names. Turn off the CAPS LOCK!
  • Be creative!
tricks for advanced searchers seeking a needle in a haystack
Tricks for advanced searchersseeking a needle in a haystack
  • Word stemming:
    • wom*n
    • lesson* NEAR plan*
  • Search within
    • Google, AlltheWeb
    • Also use “find” to search within a page full of text!
  • Field Searching
    • Search for keywords in titles, subject tags, file formats rather than just words anywhere in the text
  • Search Engine Features Chart
field searching is usually easier in the advanced search area
Field searching is usually easier in the Advanced Search area
  • title:
  • Link check (Google, AltaVista) Helps in evaluating sites!
  • Media or filetype:pdf or ppt (Google) Great for finding documents, papers, and presentations!
  • domain:
    • domain:jp +edu

Just as I wouldn’t ask my contractor friend to prepare my will, I wouldn’t ask my lawyer friend to build my new kitchen.

Search tools have

specialties too.

another paradigm shifting
Another paradigm shifting?

“We are moving from the Decade of the End User

to the Decade of

the Search Engine.”

Pam Berger

we need to address two issues
We need to address two issues:
  • How do we make the user smarter?
  • How do we make the system smarter?
a field guide to the search tools
Search enginesDatabases of billions of Web pages, gathered by automated "robots," allowing broad, often overwhelming searches. Search engines vary in the ways they collect sites and organize results

Metasearch Engines

Search across a variety of search tools and organize the collected results. Good for a broad sweep type search

Subject directoriesLinks to resources arranged in subject hierarchies, encouraging users to both browse through, and often search for, results. Subject directories are often annotated. They are selected, evaluated, and maintained by humans.

Specific Subject Guides or GatewaysThe work of a subject specialists, subject gateways usually result in carefully selected and annotated links

Specialized search engines

Search engines that focus their searching in a particular area of knowledge or interest.

Subscription Databases Payservices often provided by states or libraries offering premium content in the form of reference materials, journal and newspaper articles, broadcast transcripts, etc.

A field guide to the search tools
subject directories when to use them
Subject directories: When to use them
  • When you are just starting out, or have a broad topic or one major keyword or phrase (example: “Civil War”)
  • When you want to get to the best sites on a topic quickly
  • When you value annotations and assigned subject headings which may help retrieve more relevant material
  • When you want to avoid viewing the many noise documents picked up by search engines
two essential directories
Two Essential Directories

Librarians’ Index to the Internet

Well-organized, selective, and continually updated collection, also known as "the thinking person's Yahoo” Maintained by a team of librarians at Berkeley Public Library

Kids Click

Great starting point for kids. Annotations are carefully written. Offers grade levels and describes how illustrated a site is.

subject directories to count on
Subject directories to count on

INFOMINE: Scholarly Internet Resource Collections

A large collection of scholarly Internet resources Offers a surprising number of guide pages, maintained by paid experts. Not scholarly but very handy for everyday, practical topics

Academic Info: Your Gateway to Quality Educational Resources Great for high school and college research


This UK project leads to carefully selected and annotated resources

WWW Virtual Library

The first subject directory on the Web. Features

comprehensive, well-annotated subject collections maintained

by experts around the world

subject directories popular
Subject directories--Popular
  • Google Directory
  • Yahoo

Both Yahoo and Google offer popular directories. They are not very selective, but they offer some wonderful subject collections.


Yahoo Full Coverage

Google Social Issues

search engines when to use them
Search Engines: When to use them
  • When you have a narrow topic or several keywords
  • When you are looking for a specific site
  • When you want to do a comprehensive search and retrieve a large number of documents on your topic
  • When you want to search for use an advanced search screen or search for particular types of documents, file types, source locations, languages, date last modified, etc.
  • When you want to take advantage of newer retrieval technologies, such as concept clustering, ranking by popularity, link ranking, etc.
search engines are powerful but they have limitations
Search engines are powerful but they have limitations!
  • They do not crawl the web in “real time”
  • If a site is not linked or submitted it may not be accessible
  • Not every page of a site is always searchable
  • Few search engines truly search the full text of Web pages
  • Special tools needed for the Invisible/Deep Web
  • Paid placement / sponsored results distract from real results
when using a search engine

When using a search engine

Your goal is to get the best stuff to appear on the

first two or three pages.

second gen search tools
Second Gen Search Tools

Approach relevance in helpful ways:

  • Googleranks by link popularity
  • Teoma ranks by subject-specific popularity
  • Vivisimo, KillerInfo, Mooter: offer concept-clustered results
  • Surfwax: uses human generated indexes--Focus Words and summaries
  • Ixquick Metasearch: uses the ranking schemes (top ten lists) of other search tools

U. Albany Laura Cohen

some search tools present results horizontally not in long lists
Some search tools present results horizontally, not in long lists!
  • Query Server (metasearch)
  • Vivisimo (metasearch)
  • Killerinfo

Chris Sherman, What’s the Best Search Engine, 6/3/03

“Search engines differ from one another more than most people think. Each has a unique index of pages, and differing relevance algorithms. Because of this, you often get very different results using the same query words on different engines. If you're not finding what you're looking for, stop banging away on your ‘favorite’ and try another engine!”


Why we love Google

  • One of three major engines to crawl Acrobat files—view in ASCII, Google also sees Word, EXCEL, PowerPoint and RichText
  • Unified search--groups, images, directory
  • OR now in use but must be uppercase
  • New ~ (tilde) can pick up synonyms
  • Stop words can be searched with “+”
    • +to +be +or +not +to +be
  • Makes cache copy of page available--retrieves dead pages
  • Huge reach
  • Special features define: / calculator
  • But . . .
    • Only crawls and makes searchable first 110K of a page. Content of long pages may be invisible!
    • New stuff may not be linked and get buried


  • Indexes PDF, Word, and Flash
  • Does not limit content crawled on a Web page
  • Indexes every word including stop words!
    • Good for tracking plagiarism
  • Refreshes database frequently!
  • Unified search--web pages, files, media in one list
  • Large, fast, fresh
  • Changes with Yahoo! ownership?
  • De-dupes
  • Clusters hierarchical categories on the fly
  • Preview from result list
  • Searches several news databases and government sources
kartoo visual metasearch
KartOO (visual metasearch)
  • List of “top” sites
  • Use of rollovers
  • Illustrates relationships among topics and sites in “cartographic environment”
  • Ability to plus or minus terms from suggestion box on left--makes Boolean obvious
  • Similar to
    • Trend mostly BETA—TouchGraph (on-line display of social networks) Anacubis (for Google/Amazon), Grokker
  • Mooter
surfwax metasearch
SurfWax Metasearch
  • Quick view of results’ content
  • Search terms to broaden or narrow a subsequent search.
  • Author description
  • Key Points
  • Focus Words
  • Links to Find Articles
  • Sorting options
ixquick metasearch

Searches multiple engines and directories of your choice, and returns only those documents that appear in the top 10 those tools’ results lists.

Taps the ranking systems of the other engines!

ithaki metasearch
Ithaki Metasearch
  • Keyword relevance
  • Language options
  • Dedupes
  • Search Sites: Yahoo websites, Open Directory (web sites & categories), Looksmart, Galaxy, Zeal & AskJeeves
  • Results that appears more frequently in search engines will be at the top,
  • Group the results by search engine
  • Natural language
  • Question-answering
  • Meta-search


Topic specific page rank vs. global page rank

  • Determines results by ranking a site based on its subject-specific popularity (the number of Web pages about the subject that reference this page), its general popularity (the number of all the Web pages that reference this page). 
  • Also identifies and displays naturally existing hyper-linked communities of expert sites, and groups results by topics. Bought by Ask Jeeves.


  • Context-sensitive link analysis measures the relative importance of a given page, and relative relevancy of that page for a given query.
  • “Fast, smart, comprehensive”
  • WiseGuide automatically generates query-related categories
topix net

Every major news story from over 7,000 sources.

News sources Springfield

eurekster friendster goes searching
Eurekster(Friendster goes searching)
  • Set up your own Info Nation
    • search engine focused around a particular topic that is set up and governed by the people that use it
    • “Imagine being able to view information relevant to just Doctors, Civil Engineers, New Yorkers, Investment Bankers etc.”
  • Personalization and customization
  • Skews results based on past user behavior--more often a user clicks on a Web site, the higher it will appear in subsequent searches for similar queries.
  • Users elect to have friends' search behavior influence their own results.
  • Social networking like Friendster. Works best if friends register.

Your Goal as a Searcher: “Upping” the best results

Second generation

  • Link analysis
  • Popularity
  • Thesauri
  • Visualization/Mapping
  • “More like this”
  • Concept clustering/



  • Text relevance

Trends to look for

  • SurfWax and Ask Jeeves use indexes or thesauri. The burden of coming up with precise or extensive terminology shifted from searcher to the engine.
  • Google, Teoma, Wisenut, Eurekster rank results based on the behavior of millions of Web users.
  • Vivisimo,Teoma, KillerInfo and WiseNut concept clustering / autocatagorization/ horizontal display
  • KartOO, Mooter, Grokker map results visually
  • Ixquick Metasearch compiles “top ten” lists of the major engines
  • Federated searching


Pandia Syntax Q-Cards

Search Engine Watch

specialized search tools
Specialized Search Tools
  • Scirus (science search)
  • (searches only edu domains)
  • Biography Center (profile aggregator)
  • (education)
  • SOSIG (Social Sciences)
  • HUMBUL (Humanities)
  • SciCentral
  • CiteSeer: Scientific Literature Digital Library
  • FirstGov
  • FindLaw
  • CiteSeer
  • Redlightgreen
invisible deep hidden web
Invisible /Deep/ Hidden Web
  • The Web’s largest growing resource
  • Estimated to be 40 times size of the visible Web
  • Most not subject to fees
  • Includes topic-specific databases
why is some of the web invisible
Why is some of the Web invisible?
  • The material is on the Web but it a proprietary database
  • The material is on the Web but is in a free database
  • Content appears past the page size reach of the crawler
  • The crawler does not search a particular file format or non-text interface
  • The page is available only after registration
  • The page is available by some engines but not others. No two engines are the same
why is some of the web invisible 2
Why is some of the Web invisible? (2)
  • Time lag exists between posting, crawling, and searching (Spiders do not crawl in real time). Site may have been unavailable during the last crawl
  • Firewall prevents access
  • Page must be accessed or searched in a special way
  • Page is not linked to from any other page
  • Page was not submitted to the search engine you are using
tools for seeing the invisible web
Tools for seeing the Invisible Web
  • Invisible Web Directory
  • Complete Planet
  • Librarian’s Index to the Internet
  • Pinakes
  • OAIster
examples of free databases
Examples of Free Databases
  • Find Articles
  • MagPortal
  • ERIC
  • American Memory Collection Finder

  • NARA

  • Perry Casteñeda Map Collection

  • Hoovers (hybrid)

The free Web is

not enough!

what s not on the free web
What’s not on the free Web?
  • Copyrighted fiction and nonfiction: biographies
  • High quality reference: including literary criticism, science biography
  • Full, searchable archives of journals, magazines, newspapers
  • Most of our OPACs
some special search tools for kids
Some special search tools for kids
  • Ask Jeeves for Kids

  • KidsClick! (highly selective)
  • Yahooligans
  • Multnomah County Library
  • Ithaki Kids Metasearch

  • KillerInfo Kids (clusters)


Don’t forget to use online encyclopedias and databases as subject directories!They select great links!eLibrary

what s new
What’s new?
  • Froogle released
  • Google celebrated its 5/6th birthday
  • Teoma released 2.0
  • Yahoo becomes a search engine (Inktomi)
  • Yahoo buys AltaVista and Alltheweb
  • Google introduces book searches
  • ~ in Google like OR
  • Google Visual (but appears commercial)
  • Amazon (A9) includes full-text books (Civil War lists)
  • Google now automatically stems, defines
  • Google does UPS tracking, UPC, area codes, VIN
  • Ask Jeeves’ binoculars preview, advanced search, related searches
  • Looksmart connects with Find Articles
about searchers behaviors
About searchers’ behaviors
  • iProspect Report
  • OCLC Environmental Scan
    • Service: moving to self-sufficiency
    • Satisfaction
    • Seamlessness
  • Which search engines do folks like best?


Pew Internet & American Life: Data Memo on Search Engines of online Americans have used search engines – that translates into more than 107 million peopleOn any given day online, more than half those using the Internet use search enginesMore than two-thirds of Internet users say they use search engines at least a couple of times per week. 87% of search engine users say they find the information they want most of the time

tools to help you make search engine choices
Tools to help you make search engine choices:
  • Debbie Abilock’s Choosing the Best Search For Your Purpose

  • How to Choose a Search Engine or Directory

(U. Albany)

keeping up
Keeping up

For more information (and for people who love searching):

Search Engine Watch

Steve Bell’s Keeping Up Page

Research Buzz

Pandia Post

useful and just for fun
Useful and just for fun
  • Google Fight
  • Internet Wayback Machine
  • Tiny URL
how can you make sense of the choices
How can you make sense of the choices?

It is critical that we create search pages customized to the needs of our users.

what is a pathfinder
What is a pathfinder?
  • Around for since the 70s to help library users navigate resources
  • Establishes a plan of action--clears a path through the forest
  • Now Web-based and even more necessary!
  • Sharable 24/7 --for the good of all Web-users and information seekers!
  • Scalable—makes teachers’ and librarians’ advice vastly available
  • Models selection, evaluation, strategies, and balance!
and that s where they belong

And that’s where they belong!

Pathfinders go online!

why should teacher librarians and teachers create pathfinders
Why should teacher-librariansand teachers create Pathfinders?
  • Model selection
  • Scaffold good research strategy
  • Customized for groups
  • Promote teacher-librarians as information professionals
  • Inspire new collaborations
  • Alleviate confusion for the end-user
  • Powerfully represent the school/ district
why continued
Why? continued

They are a cheap and immediate fix for several problems

why create them for students
Why create them for students?
  • So they won’t miss the really good stuff! --Promote a wide and balanced range of relevant resources
  • Multiple formats / range of information choices
  • Self-efficacy may discourage exploration
  • Can students discern quality?
  • Move students from reliance on free Web or their favorite search engine
  • Implicitly metacognitive—
    • Reflect on the process
    • Reflect on searching strategies
more on why
More on why .
  • Eliminates frustration
  • Ensures (encourages?) quality products
  • Can be incorporated into rubric
  • Focuses research and maximizes student use of time to higher-level tasks
  • Fits students’ need for independence
springfield s curricular pathfinders
Springfield’s Curricular Pathfinders
  • Pathfinder Menu
  • Social Issues Pathfinder
  • Pathfinder for Literary Research
  • Pathfinder for Physics Current Events
  • Primary Sources
teachers need pathfinders too
Teachers need pathfinders too!

Educational Research

best practice
Best Practice!

Pathfinder Models and Examples

  • Multnomah Homework Center - Social Issues
  • Internet Public Library- Pathfinders
    • Author Pathfinder IPL
  • Camden County Library System
  • 50 States Pathfinder
  • Lewis and Clark Pathfinder
  • Black History
  • John Steinbeck
  • Indianapolis Marion County Public Library
  • Economics
tips for pathmakers
Tips for pathmakers
  • Goals: Quick guides can be learning tools
  • Audience: Consider the audience and need: age, abilities, interest, assignment details, what they need most
  • Organization: What kind of categories? Media formats, small and broad
  • Voice / Design: What approach with engage and convince of value? Printer-friendly version?
  • Annotate: value beyond a list of bookmarks
  • Advice: search strategies, vocabulary issues
  • Types of resources: best of the best media for the tasks. Include the stuff your students wouldn’t consider. Videos, powerpoints, pdf documents, databases, link to catalog, ebooks?
on designing pathfinders
On Designing Pathfinders
  • Designing Pathfinders for Children and Young Adults (Annette Lamb)
  • Wenatchee’s Pathfinder for Creating Pathfinders
  • Vandergrift’s Pathfinder
how much help to present
How much help to present?
  • Lakewood Inventors / Ohio Inventors
  • Haworth Civil War / Emerson Junior High, An Agonizing Moment, Civil War Pathfinder
  • Decades Pathfinder, 20th Century History by the Decade, Doing the Decades
pathfinders by students

Pathfinders by students!

A thoughtful alternative to the traditional paper!

why should students create pathfinders
Why should students create pathfinders?
  • Inspires thoughtful, comprehensive research
  • Annotation
  • Selection—only the best
  • Broad spectrum of resources
  • Evaluation
  • Entry point to the oral defense


Adapt for your own climate!

pathfinders by students95
Pathfinders by Students

Student Examples:


Naval Commanders

In the works:

AP Novels

Artists and Movements

as a searching tool
As a searching tool!

Because more libraries are creating online pathfinders, using “pathfinder” as a keyword is likely to pull up some expert advice!

sample searches
Sample Searches
  • Cancer
  • Women’s Studies
  • Gun Control
  • Iraq
  • Poetry
springfield students
Springfield students
  • Are you a competent searcher? (14:18)
  • Are these skills important? (6:44)
joyce valenza@sdst org

Want more information?

united states holocaust memorial museum
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Life in Shadows: Hidden Children and the Holocaust - a traveling exhibition on display at the Art Center of Battle Creek next fall.
  • Docent guided class visits are being organized.
  • Holocaust Educators’ Workshop in Spring 2005 with pd credit and materials stipend for attendees.
  • Contact Margaret Lincoln at Lakeview High School: or by phone at 269-565-3730.