How Search Works


As a trainer I like sites like this new one from Google that show you how stuff works. How Search Works goes in to a lot of detail about how search engines work. I thought it might be a useful resource for those of you who teach web searching workshops in your libraries – or just a cool site to check out if you’re the curious type!

On the site you can check out an animated explanation of search, as well as take a closer look at Google’s major search algorithms and features. A live slideshow gives you a glimpse at how Google removes spam, and complementing graphs show the spam problem and how Google is fighting it.

Search enthusiasts can also read an included 43-page document on how Google evaluates its search results.

Learn more about How Search Works at Mashable.

Getting Content out of Google


I was recently reminded of Google’s Takeout service by ReadWriteWeb’s guide to getting your YouTube videos back from Google and thought I should point this tool out to you all. Google Takeout is a product of the Data Liberation Front:

The Data Liberation Front is an engineering team at Google whose singular goal is to make it easier for users to move their data in and out of Google products. We do this because we believe that you should be able to export any data that you create in (or import into) a product. We help and consult other engineering teams within Google on how to “liberate” their products.

To learn how to get your content back from Google checkout the Takeout tool which allows you to get your videos, voice messages, contacts, etc.

Google Search Shortcuts

Shetland Sheepdog Temperament Search

Lifehacker has two articles with shortcuts for Google searches, 20 in the first article and 10 more in the second.

One of the tips (that I missed the first time around) was on how to find flight status, which I wrote about here a little while ago. Another cool one is the ability to track your packages from the Google search box!

Paste the tracking number of a shipment from USPS, UPS, FedEx, or On-Trac into your Google Search bar and Google automatically figures out which service has it and links you directly to the tracking page.

Another cool one is to find out information about a dog breed you might be considering adopting:

Shetland Sheepdog Temperament Search

This is one of the more random quick results, but if you type “[dog breed] [temperament]” you’ll get an instant result listing the breed’s characteristics. It should come in handy when you’re at a shelter picking out an animal.

You have to check out these articles and learn about these neat little shortcuts.

Power Searching with Google


I have to admit I haven’t gone through this course yet, but I thought I should let you all know about it so that you can learn how to become a Google Power Searcher. These videos are from a course offered by Google on how to use their search engine.

Google Search makes it amazingly easy to find information. Come learn about the powerful advanced tools we provide to help you find just the right information when the stakes are high.

The other day I was with my mother and she wanted to know what the winning lottery numbers were. I asked her why she didn’t look online and she told me that she couldn’t find them when she looked. She was looking for NJ Lottery, but I asked her to read me the top of the ticket. She had a Mega Millions lottery ticket and she wanted the winning numbers so I asked her why didn’t you just search (without the quotes) for ‘mega millions winning numbers’? She shrugged, it just hadn’t occured to her. Maybe you have people in your life who might benefit from these lessons – or maybe you just want to brush up on your own search skills!

Learn more at Power Searching with Google.

Why can’t library searches be this simple?

Google Flight Search

Time for a rant – and I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but why the heck does it have to be so hard to find things in libraries??

Yesterday my husband was traveling and he was worried that he’d miss his connection so while he was on the ground but not at the gate I wanted to find out where his next gate was. I decided to try a little something on Google. I typed in (without quotes) ‘United Flight 2456 gate’ and right there at the top of my results were the flights and the gate info!

I then thought, boy wouldn’t it be great if library catalogs were that smart and that friendly. So I went to my public library catalog and searched for (without quotes) ‘the help’. I don’t know where in the results (if at all) my book was, but it wasn’t on page one and there was no way to filter the results by author (that I saw).

So then I thought, well WorldCat does searching much better, so let’s see how hard it is to find out if my library has a copy of the book available using WorldCat. So I went and did the same exact search and results numbers 1, 3, and 4 were all The Help (no idea how result #2 got in there).

So then I clicked to see if my library had the material and things just went downhill. The first 4 libraries on the list of local libraries didn’t take me to the book, but to the library catalog homepage and then the one that did show me the book made me click yet again to get the availability information.

Why the heck does it have to be this hard?? I want to know if my library has a book and if it’s available and I know how to use the library, but our patrons are going through this nonsense when they can type in simple queries like ‘United Flight 2456 gate’ to Google and get the info they need without any additional clicks.

Now, Koha isn’t perfect, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention here that when you search for ‘the help’ (without quotes) on a Koha catalog the material you want is the first result (if you have your search set to sort by relevance – which is the default) and availability information displays right on the search results page (if you have that preference turned on – and why the heck wouldn’t you?) so that I don’t have to click any further unless I want to learn more about the material.

No wonder everyone turns to Google instead of to libraries for answers …

Google to buy Frommer’s?

My travel bookshelf is heavy on the Frommer's

My travel bookshelf is heavy on the Frommer’s

This from The Next Web:

Word on the street via The Wall Street Journal is that Google is acquiring the Frommer’s brand of travel guides for an undisclosed amount in order to beef up its travel-planning searches.

What remains to be see is whether Frommer’s will continue to have paper guides published, or whether the entire product will go digital.

I am a huge huge fan of Frommer’s books and actually don’t use the web resources much even though I keep saying I will. I buy a new Frommer’s book for every big trip and carry it around with me. While I love my Android and my Google Now feature (which this article poses will be improved with this data) I still want my Frommer’s books and hope that they don’t go away.

New feed search engine

I just read about Feedmil on DownloadSquad and thought I’d give it a whirl. It’s a feed search engine with some interesting little levers you can move about to alter your search results. I tried a search for libraries and well-known and a bunch of actually well-known library blogs came up. I then searched for open source and found some neat sites that I didn’t know about before.


Looks like something I’ll have to play with a bit to get the hang of – but a neat tool to mention to your friends who are looking for what blogs to read.

Search by Color on Google

This morning I was looking for a bit of art for my (soon) newly decorated bathroom. I was looking for a tile art piece that I know I’ve seen before – something that is made of blue glass or plastic. What I didn’t see was that Google Image Search has a new color option to limit your search by!

Color Google Image Search

I could have used that – and will be using it as soon as I hit Publish.