Monday, December 7, 2009

Google web searches

I realised while doing this topic that I am pretty ignorant about the different ways of searching with search engines, and am pleased once again to be doing this course and at the very least becoming aware of the options available to me.

Having had a look at the different search engines, while I would probably still use Google as a first choice, there were features of the others which I really liked, and it was interesting to see the slightly different options available with different search engines, and the slightly different results using the same search terms. I like the way you could specify with Google that you were only interested in books on your topic, or blogs, or videos etc. This could help save time and get to the heart of what you're searching for without trawling through irrelevant hits. Google's timeline feature may not always be relevant, but for certain topics it may be extremely useful, and was a feature which didn't seem to be available on other search engines. I liked the way with Yahoo you could specify the website for your results (eg Amazon, Wikipedia) which would help you identify if those well-used sites had information you were interested in without having to go to each site individually. The 'Also try' suggestions with Yahoo seemed very pertinent and useful (when sometimes the suggestions for related searches don't seem particularly helpful). I wasn't terribly keen on Bing, but did like Exalead's option to specify file type for your results, audio or video etc. The Internet is such a vast pool of information that having the ability to narrow down searches is essential in order to get to information, and relevant information, quickly and easily (unless of course you're just surfing and quite happy to go off in whatever direction appeals at the time).

I haven't worked on a public reference desk for some time, but I can see that knowledge of these search options would be valuable to staff on busy public desks to help patrons find what they're looking for. However, now that I've seen what is possible I will be able to use the different options and search engines in my own work which often involves using the Internet to hunt down items for purchase.

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