How do you search?

Are you getting the most out of your searching? Mashable points out a few things that librarians have been telling their information literacy students for years on how to find what you really want, using the search giant Google as its search platform of choice. Need to find that needle in a haystack? You’re on!

How to use Google search more effectively via Mashable

What did your 2010 look like?

Google has the answer, at least in the form of what people wanted to find out more about, in their annual year in review – the Google zeitgeist. The Google zeitgeist 2010 website has a few nifty gadgets you might want to have a play with that let you narrow down the most searched for results by region and includes a timeline which graphs by global event as well as a range of statistics (in comparison to last year).

Paul Hagon on ALATechSource

Paul Hagon, the National Library’s senior web designer, has a lot of interesting ideas on the ways that libraries might be able to utilise emerging technologies. Paul recently spoke to Michael Stephens over at ALA TechSource and made an important point about the way that libraries provide their information to users, primarily through a search box interface. But how easily is information available and findable through such interfaces? Paul suggests that there are a multitide of other avenues to finding and gaining access to information and asks,

How can we easily provide this information to others to use? There are too many applications for us to be building them all. I think this is the important part. We should just be the ‘pipes’ that provide the information.

Michael asked Paul about what he thought libraries could do to start moving in that direction. Paul said:

I would love to see libraries opening up their information for others to use in an easier manner. Currently libraries are both the custodians of information, and also the custodians of how you access that information (eg: through a traditional catalogue/search interface). Libraries can still be the custodians of the information and retain that authoritative role that they should have, but they shouldn’t necessarily be deciding how people access that information. There are a lot of smart people out there building clever applications. Let them use the information how they want. Good ideas come from anywhere.

Read the full conversation here.

Libraries your passport to discovery

This week (25-31 May) is Library and Information Week and this year’s theme is “Libraries your passport to discovery”. ALIA says that this year’s theme seeks to highlight “the self-directed discovery element of libraries and to celebrate libraries as the place to access, communicate, connect, educate, entertain and inform.”

Mosman Library in Sydney is currently getting into the swing of Library and Information Week by pitting their reference librarian against *that* search engine. Each day during Libray and Information, a typical reference query will be issued to the library’s reference librarian (who will use items from the library’s electronic reference resources) and to their Internet and IT service librarian (who will use *that* search engine – yes, you know the one!).

Mosman Library vs that search engine

Mosman Library vs that search engine

Each librarian has 45 minutes to research the question and an additional 45 minutes to answer the query, as well as outline the search strategy that they employed to find the answer. You can follow the action – and vote for the winning search strategy and answers to the queries – on the Mosman Library vs that search engine challenge blog. Questions are posted to the blog daily at 10 AM (AEST), with answers posted at 12 noon. The winner will be announced on Monday 1 June.

Google search continues to evolve

For many of us, Google is the preferred search engine of choice. One of the main reasons that it continues to enjoy such a consistent level of popularity is its easy to use interface, as well as a raft of innovative features that are continually being improved upon.

Google has recently announced the upcoming release of Google Squared, which aims to include smarter, more relevant search results from any Google search. Search results will display graphically, in “squares” (table format), providing snippets of relevant information about the search term. The information that is displayed about the search topic can also be customised by the user.

Google Squared search results, via Google Blogoscoped

Google Squared search results, via Google Blogoscoped.

You can view a brief demo of Google Squared’s capabilities here.

Google Squared will will soon be available for testing via Google Labs so keep your eye on upcoming developments and why not have a play with a few of Google’s other offerings in the pipeline while you’re there?

While you wait for Google Squared to be tested and implemented, you might want to take advantage of even more search options that are currently available in Google’s search results. You can watch a nice summary of the current search options here.

Google and …

I keep meaning to post about all of the things that are happening with Google and now that I’ve built up a few, I’ll share them with you.

The latest issue of Cites & Insights has an interesting wrap up of commentary surrounding the recent court case between the Authors GuildĀ  and Google over Google’s Book Search which raised issues of copyright and content ownership and usage. The wrap-up is available in both HTML and PDF. Terms of the settlement are available here and there is also more information about the legal ramifications on Google here.

In other Google news, Google have added yet another layer to their Google Maps venture by incorporating transport details for a limited number of cities. Google Earth also has new features including the ability to explore the ocean floor.

I have also been doing a bit of playing with a number of different search parameters which I came across on LifeHacker. They have a great section devoted to Google tips and tricks. Did you know that you can search for an image and limit it by size? No, then find out more! Google also has a page dedicated to helping you get the most out of your searching.