Modeling Real Search Skills in Action #il2013 #internetlibrarian @researchwell

[One last session from Internet Librarian that I haven’t had a chance to blog about until now.]

Tasha Bergson-Michelson, formerly Google search educator, now school librarian at Castilleja School
Julie Erickson, South Dakota State Library

Started by asking attendees to jot down some ideas for searching on the topic of the effect of sleep deprivation on the mental processing speed of students.

Here are some of the facets I wrote down:

  • Sleep: lack, hours
  • insomnia
  • Sleep deprivation
  • processing speed
  • mental process*
  • students
  • teenagers
  • adolescents

The idea of this session is not only to do a good search, but to show your users/students what you are doing, so they can apply the techniques themselves.

Reference interview: Ask “What did you mean by that term?” (In the example above, we’d want to know what age students we are talking about.)

A good question: What would the perfect book title on this topic be?

Try adding the word “scholar” in Google to get more academic results.

When you make a mistake, say, “How fascinating” as you try to figure out and explain why the search results came back the way they did. Every failed search teaches me something.

Real-life example: Tasha did a search on “Internet models,” which, it turns out, does not bring up models of how the Internet works. (NSFW)

Less is more: don’t tell everything you know.

Think before typing in a searchbox: who cares about this thing? That will give you a clue to who might be providing information about it online.

Many people don’t know about:

CTRL-F to find keywords on a web page.
Using “-” to exclude terms in a search (boolean Not)
Searching on filetype: and color:

Even when people learn about a new technique, they may not realize it’s transferable. People may learn they can do site:census.gov to limit their results to the Census web site, but not realize they can also do site:bls.gov or even site:.gov.

One good article can lead to more. Try a subject encyclopedia to get started. A New York Times article can lead to more scholarly research.

The librarian keeps you engaged by talking to you.

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