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Author Archive | Paula Hane

Trends in Search Engines

While Google continues to dominate the search engine scene—with an almost embarrassing percentage of users—savvy searchers will want to know about some other search tools and trends. The three speakers in the Monday morning Track A session discussed some search engines that attempt to solve the problems of search relevancy, tap into the “Deep Web,” and offer new search interfaces and real-time search options.

They identified 5 major search trends and then reviewed recommended examples of each:

  • Human Powered Search – including Real Time Search
  • Semantic Search (such as Bing, Wolfram Alpha, and Cognition)
  • Federated Search (sites such as Scirus, and those from Deep Web Technology—mednar, biznar, etc.)
  • Vertical Search (domain-specific search)
  • Visualization

For human-powered search they mentioned directories, catalogs, and social media tagging. Two examples that are fairly well known in academic and scholarly circles are OIAster (, a union catalog of digital resources that was created by librarians for researchers, which is now part of OCLC WorldCat, and CiteULike (, a free service to help individuals store, organize and share scholarly papers. Real-time search engines tap the power of the social web from Twitter and others sites—Google, Bing, and Yahoo! are now including these in results.

But I was most interested in hearing of a site called yauba (, an Indian search engine that calls itself “The World’s First Privacy Safe, Real-Time Search Engine.” I’ll have to give this one a try. It offers three levels of privacy protection:

  • It uses no cookies.
  • It does not store any of the user’s search details.
  • It allows a user to visit third-party sites with the same level of privacy protection.

The market for visualization engines has been fluid—we’ve seen a number come and go (many of us were sorry to see Grokker go away). But the technology offers a lot of promise for sifting through masses of results. Here is the list of visualization search engines identified by Lynda Citro, if you’d like to do some exploring.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, Information Today, Inc.
Editor, NewsBreaks

Search Tips From Super Searcher Mary Ellen Bates

Mary Ellen Bates, one of my favorite search gurus, always manages to come up with some helpful new sites and web search tips. Here are some of the highlights she mentioned at the Monday morning Track A session. She says her presentation—and those from her CyberTours—will be available at

I was interested to see that her first mention was, which uses human editors to extract “the best of the best.” She calls it the “Walter Cronkite of the 21st Century.” Infotoday covered the launch of Newsy in a NewsBreak a year ago but I hadn’t heard of it since then (

She spoke quite positively of Google Buzz, which she says competes with Twitter. It is accessed through your Gmail account and offers nice browse features but only rudimentary search capabilities. “I keep an eye on whatever Google is doing – your world will change,” she said. She didn’t mention all the controversy when it launched and unfortunately there wasn’t time to ask about it—for the details, see our Feb. 22, 2010 NewsBreak:

Other interesting sites include the following: – searches Google Buzz plus Twitter, Friendfeed, etc. Can limit by language. — searches Yahoo BOSS and Twitter and focuses on extracting facts

Technorati – is back from the dead and “Authority” is again working on the refine search page – a great search tool for slide decks with an emphasis on university sites. This gets my vote for the best tip of the day: For competitive intelligence searching, try <company name> strategic

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, Information Today, Inc.
Editor, NewsBreaks

Lee Rainie on Networked Creators and Implications for Libraries

Lee Rainie, director of Pew Internet & American Life Project, is a popular keynoter at our conferences. He understands the demographics of internet users and, more importantly, really has a grasp of the role librarians can play in serving the information needs of users. He had some interesting statistics to share, insightful comments on our online culture, and some implications for libraries.

Lee Rainie and Jane Dysart

Back in 2000, just 46% of adults used the internet, and only 5% used broadband at home. Now, 75% of adults use the internet. The 25% who don’t tend to be older, disabled, or lack English proficiency. There are clearly still populations that need and want help.

Here are some further recent statistics:

  • 62% have broadband at home
  • 80% have cell phone
  • 53% connect to internet wirelessly

And here are some stats reflecting what Rainie calls the new “networked creator universe.”

  • 57% are social networking site users
  • 37% share photos
  • 30% share personal creations
  • 30% contribute rankings and ratings
  • 28% create content tags
  • 19% use Twitter – but it’s not the young. It’s a Gen X thing.
  • 15% have a personal website
  • 15% are content remixers
  • 14% are bloggers

Borrowing from Manuel Castells’ book (The Internet Galaxy), he says there have been four creators of online culture: techno-elites, hackers, virtual communitarians, and entrepreneurs. Ranie says there is now a 5th creator of online culture – networked creators. These creators are challenging the traditional media gatekeepers and democratizing the voices in media. They have also increased their social networks and social standings, created communities, solved problems, and contributed to civic and political affairs. The surprising statistic is he says that 70 % of the content in social media is not covered in the traditional media. The blogosphere is filled with an eclectic mix of stories.

But here’s the meat of his message for librarians—the implications for our library services.

1.  You can be a node in people’s social networks – as they seek info to help them solve problems and meet their needs

2.  You can teach new literacies (borrowed from librarian Pam Berger) – screen literacies matter, navigation literacy, connections and context literacy, skepticism, the value of contemplative time, how to create content, ethical behavior in a new world

3.  You need to re-vision your role in a world where much has changed (how to serve multiple audiences in a complicated world) –value of information, curating information means more than collections, creating media (network media creators should be your allies)

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, Information Today, Inc.
Editor, NewsBreaks

Open Access Alternatives to A&I Databases

How to function in tough times was certainly a major theme at the conference. And the ideas and tips from many presenters were well received by the many librarians struggling to cope with tighter budgets and restrictions of all kinds. Peter Jasco, a well-known expert reviewer of abstracting and indexing databases gave his suggestions for sources that can be used as alternatives.

Peter noted that most librarians are reluctant to cut back on salaries, personnel, journals, etc., but a good option can be to cut back on subscriptions to indexing and abstracting services. “Make use of what you have and what is OPEN ACCESS.” He then announced that he would show how they could get free access to some 80 – 100 million articles.

Many databases from U.S. government agencies are available for free and offer a high percentage with abstracts, such as Agricola, ERIC, NTIS, PubMed, NCJRS, and others. No need to search these on expensive online services—go direct and save. Many associations, societies, and international organizations offer free abstracts, for some as the OA part of their fee-based digital archives. Some of the largest commercial publishers also offer huge OA subsets of bibliographic records and abstracts, including SpringerLink, Elsevier, Wiley, Sage, and many others.

Of the digital facilitators, HighWire Press is his personal favorite because of their free full-text articles. Others are MetaPress, Ingenta Connect, and Atypon. His facts, figures, and review comments were all quite compelling.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, Information Today, Inc.
Editor, NewsBreaks