Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Internet Librarian Conference. I think this was my 6th time attending this conference. I enjoy it because it’s not just limited to school librarians. All different types of librarians attend, so it’s a great way to broaden my knowledge of libraries in general.
I learned lots of cool things, but I think I learned the most about search this year. This post will highlight some of the most interesting things I learned about search. In my next post, I’ll talk about other topics from the conference.
Online Searching: Tools & Teaching Tips
The first session I attended was Mary Ellen Bates‘ Super-Search Secrets. I appreciated her humor and her ability to speak clearly and professionally. She presented several search tools that were new to me, including:
- Disconnect.me: Allows you to run private searches on the major search engines
- MillionShort: Removes the top 100- 1 million (you decide) search results. This allows searchers to find more obscure sources.
- Qwant: A social search engine. It has a shallow archive, but it’s good for discovering what’s trending now.
- Zanran: A data search engine. Searches tables, PDFs, Excel spreadsheets and other reports for numerical data.
Mary Ellen also told us about some search strategies she uses that are quite creative. My favorite included:
- Use Google’s Reading Level feature to find more in-depth articles. This is helpful when you’re only finding basic research and want to dive deeper.
- Use the Google search box auto-complete to identify potential keyword combinations. For example, if you type in [Amazon vs], you’ll see that you get a list of potential alternatives to Amazon.
- Google’s auto-complete feature can also be helpful for seeing what keyword combinations other people are using. For example, if I type in [teacher librarian], the auto-complete lets me know that other common searches are [teacher librarian jobs], [teacher librarian magazine], etc. I think this can be helpful when students are having trouble identifying keywords to narrow down their search.
- Infographics are a great way to provide basic information in a visually-appealing manner. To search for infographics on a particular topic, try searching for [infographic AND your topic]. For example, I searched for [infographic "romeo and juliet"] and found this awesome infographic.
- Google’s Media Tools organizes all the Google products and services by what you’re trying to do. Bates suggests using it to help students identify which tool to use at specific steps in the research process.
I also attended a session by Tasha Bergson-Michelson. The session was actually about her experience developing Google’s MOOCs, but my big take-aways had to do with teaching search.
I’ve seen Tasha present several times, and she has the rare ability to give tons of content while maintaing a sense of humor. Just consider these two quotes from her presentation:
“Search education starts at home. If you didn’t know that, start brainwashing your kids now.”
“If you type a question mark into the search box, you might be a bad searcher.”
She also talked about how it’s important to realize that the general public (and students) don’t really care about information literacy like librarians do. We need to make sure we find ways to balance the content we want to teach with student buy-in.
One way to do that is by determining what moves our students. She gave the example of demonstrating color filtering in Google. Students love this example because it’s fun and visually appealing, but it’s a good way to teach students how color can define a source. ”Color defines what keywords cannot.”
For more cool Google search tips check out PowerSearchingWithGoogle. You can take one of their self-paced courses. I’ve done one and learned a ton.
Thanks for reading this very long post. In my next post, I’ll share more highlights from the conference.