Google For Librarians: 50 Tips, Tools, and Resources for Power Searching

Jul 16th, 2008

Librarians are known in their communities as the go-to resource for power searches, research projects and answers to every kind of academic query. As informed as librarians are, however, they can always use some help harnessing the overwhelming amount of information available online. This list of 50 tips, guides and tools is designed to give librarians some help when searching Google for quality, relevant information for themselves and their patrons.

Advanced Search Tips

To perform an advanced search on Google that will narrow down your results, consider the following tips.

  1. Choose a domain name: If you’re looking for quality, authoritative information, select the Google Advanced Search option that only brings up .edu or .gov sites.
  2. Select a time period: This tip is especially helpful for science searches or if you need to find information that falls between a specific time period.
  3. Top 5 Google Search Tips: Get tips for using "hardcore Google" by watching this video.
  4. Usage Rights: Google lets searchers use the User Rights feature to specifically find material of any file type that can be shared and modified.
  5. Change language: To find source material, sometimes you need to bring up the content in its original language. Don’t forget to set this preference during your search to increase your chances of finding the original document.
  6. SafeSearch filtering: If you only want kid safe or public appropriate material brought up during your search, choose either the moderate or strict filtering option in your preferences.
  7. Negative terms: Weed out information you don’t want by putting the minus sign behind your keyword and then typing in another keyword that represents the definition of what you don’t want displayed. For an example, follow the link.
  8. link: If you want to find secondary source material that still links to a widely known authoritative site, type in [link:] and then the address of the site you want links to.
  9. Other Information Needs: Visit this page to find shortcuts for finding pages with certain words in the title, at certain domain names and more.
  10. related: The related feature gives you the option of searching for a page that is very similar to a website you already know. If you need an extra source or two for your project, you can type in [related:] and then the address of the site you’re using as an example for what you want to find.

Google Search Tools

Take advantage of Google’s many different search tools that can quickly connect you to literature and nonfiction guides, patents, academic articles, news archives and more.

  1. Google Blog Search: When you want your results to include blog content only, use this search.
  2. Google Book Search: Besides being able to search for actual books, this search also lets you find keywords and phrases that appear in books.
  3. Google Image: When you’re only searching for images, turn to this search engine powered by Google to find the most popular pics on the Web.
  4. News Archive Search: The days of microfiche and microfilm may be over thanks to the Google News Archive Search, which "provides an easy way to search and explore historical archives" and can display your results in a timeline.
  5. Power Search Tool: Watch this video for an introduction to Google’s Power Search Tool, which can narrow down your search by file type, search engine, definitions, history and a lot more.
  6. Desktop: Librarians who work on Macs can easily search all of the overwhelming content, saved websites and other files on their computer with this handy tool.
  7. Patent Search: For scientific, product, engineering and historical searches involving patents, you can look up over 7 million patents with photos and other information here.
  8. Google Custom Search: Create your own search engine powered by Google that reflects the needs of your library and community. You can choose to include certain websites, customize display options and more.
  9. Search by Number: For administrative purposes, use the Search by Number tools to track packages, find patents and look up U.S. area codes.
  10. Earth: If your library needs maps or aerial images of buildings, the community, or virtually any place on the planet, use the free Google Earth tool for your searches. Google Earth Plus and Google Earth Pro offer paid upgrades that include GPS and "access the ultimate research, presentation, and collaboration tool for location-specific information."
  11. Google Scholar: Google Scholar is a popular search engine that connects you to quality sites, journals, articles, abstracts, citations, research material and more.
  12. Finance: Help your patrons find stock quotes, market information and industry news on this niche site.
  13. Google Power Search: With a keyword search box and a drop down tab for different file types, this easy search engine lets you find images, Web content, video, music and more.
  14. Special Searches: When you need to conduct a search within a specific topic, like computers, politics or colleges and universities, use this tool to only bring up information that’s truly relevant.

Google Apps and Resources

Watch these videos and learn about Google’s apps and secret search commands to tap into parts of the Internet you never thought you’d be able to reach.

  1. Advanced Search Made Easy: Google’s Web Search Help Center provides great advice for maximizing the benefits of the advanced search, including choosing a specific domain, language, file type or period of time.
  2. Top 5 Hidden Google Search Commands: This YouTube video reveals simple tips for finding exactly what you want, including file types, metric conversions and answers to math problems.
  3. Language Tools: Find websites in different languages, translate a web page, and even alter the Google interface so that it reflects a particular language or country, from Sweden to Albania to Colombia to Liechtenstein.
  4. Google Toolbar: Install the Google Toolbar into your Firefox browser so that you can conduct a search from any place online.
  5. Improve Your Search Experience: This Google site gives tips on using reference tools, local searches, searching by number and other features.
  6. Google Notebook: Google Notebook is a librarian’s best friend, as it help you organize all of your clips, frequently visited websites and other research information.
  7. Translate: View websites in other languages by having them translated here.
  8. Web Accelerator: Speed up your searches and make your library run much more efficiently with this Google tool that helps your browser run more quickly.
  9. Search Results Page: Here, every part of a Google search results page is explained, helping you figure out where to find search statistics, navigation links, suggested sites and more.
  10. Google Sites: Librarians can use this Google app to share results and research with patrons or other librarians, making power searching a lot faster and more community-driven.

Power Searching Guides and Ideas

Here you’ll find how-to guides and ideas to help you with your power search, from finding different file types to using Google Book search in new ways.

  1. How to do an advanced search on Google Book Search: Watch this short YouTube tutorial for tips on doing the advanced search on this specific Google search engine.
  2. How to Use Google Search Like a Professional User: In this video, you’ll get tips for looking up basic information and getting the results you want to appear higher up in your queue.
  3. How to Use Google Trends for Keyword Search: Learn how checking statistics can give you an edge in your search.
  4. How to Find Any Type of File Using Google: If you’re having a hard time finding music files, images or specific downloads during your search, consider the tips presented in this video.
  5. Google Search Tips: This tutorial goes over Google search tools that can help teachers, students and librarians find what they need.
  6. Google Book Search: Researching Your (Ancestral) Roots: Get inspired to use Google Book Search for a genealogical project.
  7. 12 Quick Tips to Search Google Like and Expert: Tips in this guide include knowing when to exclude words, doing a site specific search, and searching for specific document types.
  8. Top 10 Obscure Google Search Tricks: To help patrons find even the most obscure material, use this guide to learn Google’s secrets.
  9. 10 Most Amazing Google Search Tricks: From abbreviations and definitions to live commentaries, get quick search tips here.
  10. 20 Tips for More Efficient Google Searches: The Dumb Little Man offers up 20 tips for efficient Google power searching, from quotes to the wildcard symbol to vertical searches to types of numbers to cached pages.

Google Hacks for Librarians

These hacks are great for librarians who want to learn about the Google tips and tricks that will help them find information for students, teachers and the public.

  1. Secret Google Tips for Researchers: Part 1: This is part one of a five-part series that helps serious researchers use Google more efficiently, including searching groups, using quotes and stems, and more.
  2. Librarians and Google: Tips of the Trade: Librarians and librarian media specialists talk about the Google tools they love to use.
  3. Internet Librarian: 30 Search Tips in 40 Minutes: Elizabeth Lane Lawley from the mamamusings blog gives great tips for online searches, including many Google hacks.
  4. Google Guide: Making Searching Even Easier: This page is full of shortcuts, abbreviations and tips for conducting specialized searches.
  5. Google Hacks: Tips and Tools for Finding the World’s Information: View this book online through Google Books to find very useful tips for getting to the information you want on Google.
  6. Create a Google Custom Search Engine: The website Google Librarian Central provides this how-to for librarians who want to create a custom search engine for their community.
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