Help! This Search Engine Stinks

Help! This Search Engine Stinks

Posted on Thursday June 14, 2007 at 10:55AM

Hello all, I’m happy to be back in Wild Rose country. Now that I’ll be in the office more I hope I can add to the blog more frequently.

If you have taken a workshop on databases with me you’ll know that I strongly recommend perusing any database’s or search engine’s help pages. “It will save you time” I say. So, to illustrate my point I thought I’d share with you some things learned by examining Google’s help pages.

Did you know you can use Google as a quick glossary or dictionary? For example, if you were looking for a definition for the word abracadabra you would simply type, define:abracadabra, in Google’s search box and press enter. Like so:


Google can also be used as a calculator and or conversion tool. I find this feature extremely helpful, simply type in the math problem or conversion you are looking for, such as:

  • 10*15
    20% of 47.30
    40 pounds in kilograms
  • You can find complete instructions for Google’s calculator in their help pages :).

    Definitions, Calculations and Currency Conversion - Oh My!

    Yes, you can even do currency conversions in Google. Check out these examples Google gives in its help pages.

  • 3.5 USD in GBP
    currency of Brazil in Malaysian money
    5 British pounds in South Korean money
    2.2 USD per gallon in INR per litre
  • I won’t reproduce the entire Google help pages in this blog post. If you take the 15 to 20 minutes to read the help pages of a new search engine or database you can discover all sorts of shortcuts and cool features. Failing that, you’ll at least discover how to properly search that database. Did you know in order for boolean operators to work in Google you have to capitalize them? Did you know that you can’t do a phrase search for “to be or not to be” in Ebsco’s databases? Regardless of the quotes it ignores the terms to and be and regards or and not as boolean operators! These are just a couple of useful things you’ll discover when you read the help pages!

    Alright, I’ll get off my soap box now. On to something else entirely:

    When I am out teaching about our databases I like to give students time to search the databases on their own. However, I find that if I say “feel free to explore the databases on your own, if you have questions I’m here to help,” students look like deer in headlights. You may have been one of them… no? “What do I search for?” “Where do I start?” When I handout worksheets with topics to search on or walk through searching for a topic or two things seem to go much better.

    Many have heard me say “If you have 15 or 20 minutes in your day explore our databases and familiarize yourself with them.” Perhaps you have found yourself in front of the computer well intentioned to do just that… but then you simply sit there like, yes, a deer in headlights: “What do I search for?” “Where do I start?” To help with that problem you have a few options:

    1) The Aurora features a database in every issue and is accompanied by practice questions you can answer. (If you send your answers to Leanne you are entered into a draw for a prize)

    2) Now you’ll be able to print quick worksheets off this site. My hope is that the worksheets will help you explore and learn our databases and that they can be finished in no more than 2 or 3 20 minute sessions at your desk. Oh fun, its just like being in school. :0

    You’ll find the “worksheets” under the worksheets link at the top of this page. Good luck!

    Author: Northern Lights Library System


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