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50 Awesome Search Engines Every Librarian Should Know About

Posted on Tuesday July 22, 2008 by Staff Writers

Students, teachers and the public turn to their librarians for help researching everything from technology to genealogy to homework help and lesson plans. Even if your library is equipped with subscriptions and memberships to top of the line databases and online journals, you’ve probably had to get creative during a patron’s requested search for something unfamiliar. Next time, though, you can turn to one of these 50 search engines, designed to pull from the Web only the information you really need.

Meta Search and Multi Search Engines

These meta search and multi search engines can search numerous engines and sites at once, maximizing the number of results you get each time you conduct a search.

  1. Ms. Freckles: Adorable Ms. Freckles can search online for different file types, definitions, translations, film, finance sites, and a lot more all at once.
  2. Kart00: This cartoon-inspired search engine lets you hover over results to get a preview of the site before you open it. Results are also organized by topic so that you can narrow down your search and organize hits.
  3. Fazzle: Search the web’s best, the entire web, downloads, images, videos, audio or headline news. You can also select an advanced search to find incredibly specific results.
  4. Trexy: This site saves your search memory so that you don’t have search multiple times on different engines.
  5. Mamma: Here at “the mother of all search engines,” librarians search the web or video. Next to your results is an option to refine your search by choosing a suggested category.
  6. 1-Page Multi Search: Type your search into one or several of the following search engines at once: Alta Vista, AOL, EntireWeb, Gigablast, Hot Bot, Lycos, Scrub, Yahoo!, Google, YouTube, Dogpile, Ask Jeeves, and a lot more.
  7. iZito: Busy librarians who are constantly finding new reference sites and search engines will like iZito because of its ability to save your history in an easy drop down tab.

Multimedia and Interactive

For help finding pictures, podcasts, music and shareware, use these search engines.

  1. Metacafe: Find videos on this site if you want a change from YouTube.
  2. Songza: Patrons looking for music can use this search engine, which “lets you listen to any song or band.” You can also search the featured list or top played list.
  3. Picsearch: This large photo search engine has more than 2 billion images in its directory.
  4. Get a Podcast: Search for podcasts all around the web in this directory.
  5. Shareware: If you need to install new software programs on your library computers, turn to Shareware first, which pulls up tons of free programs and downloads.
  6. Public Radio Fan: Find information for thousands of public radio stations on this site. You can find the times of different broadcasts, station names, podcasts and more.

Google Search Engines

A Google search doesn’t just mean typing in a keyword on the homepage and seeing what pops up. Try out these niche search engines sponsored by Google to find books, images and more information that librarians will find useful.

  1. Google Image Search: Ask Google to bring up the most popular images on the web with this engine.
  2. Google Scholar: Get connected to scholarly journals and publications here.
  3. Google Books: Search online copies of books on this search engine, which features categories like literature and science fiction to biology and linguistics to highly cited to categories organized by subject and keyword.
  4. Alerts: Set up Google Alerts for any subject so that you’ll get results sent to your inbox every time there’s a new site, blog or keyword mention on the web.

Great Niche Sites for Librarians

From family friendly and kid-safe searches to science and medical search engines, these niche sites can help you with very specific research projects.

  1. Scirus: Pull up science-related results on this research-oriented search engine. You can find “not only journal content but also scientists’ homepages, courseware, pre-print server material, patents and institutional repository and website information.”
  2. Librarians’ Internet Index: Here you’ll be connected to quality, authoritative sites. Search by keyword or narrow down your search by browsing categories like business, government, media, health, computers, or the arts and humanities.
  3. Family Friendly Search: Librarians at elementary and middle schools, as well as public librarians, may be interested in directing patrons to this site, which is safe for kids.
  4. Intute: This British search engine lets you pick search options in the following categories for a specialized search: science and technology, arts and humanities, social sciences, and the health and life sciences.
  5. PubMed: PubMed is one of the premier search engines for medical students and researchers. You can find journal articles, citations, clinical information and more.
  6. Meta-Index for U.S. Legal Research: On the GSU College of Law site, librarians and patrons can take advantage of this meta-index which brings up judicial opinions, legislation and more.
  7. Internship Programs: College librarians may want to direct students to this search engine, which connects searchers to internship opportunities.
  8. Congoo: For current events and news searches, use Congoo to connect you to the latest in technology, industry, business, world news, finance, politics, Internet trends and more.
  9. CataLaw: CataLaw is another law search engine that organizes “all indexes of law and government into a uniform, universal and unique metaindex.”
  10. USGenWeb Archives: Help your patrons with genealogy searches with this engine.

Custom Searches

Tailor your search to your daily needs with these search engines, which can be modified by remembering search history, customizing templates and more.

  1. mozbot: Pick a language and customize your search with this engine. Mozbot can also add results to your favorites, send results by e-mail, display thumbnails of different sites, and provide suggestions for similar sites.
  2. Curriculum Search: Help teachers find reference materials, lesson plans and tools by searching this Google custom search engine.
  3. Computer Science Research: Use this search engine or adapt it to make your own to find computer science materials and references.
  4. Rollyo: Choose to search categories like health, travel, tech, reference and others using Rollyo, a system that “create[s] search engines using the sources you trust.”
  5. Ujiko: This sleekly designed search engine lets you choose how you want your results displayed and organized.

Reference Searches

The following list of search engines prove useful to all kinds of librarians in search of dictionaries and other reference materials.

  1. JustCite: JustCite is a legal search engine and can help you find citations.
  2. Online Journals Search Engine: Search scientific databases and journals here.
  3. Powerset: For a basic Q&A session, use Powerset to quickly search Wikipedia entries.
  4. Infoplease: Get information on any subject, from history and government to arts and entertainment to world news to biographical information to homework help.
  5. Guide Star: This search tool is great for public librarians or librarians who work with teachers wanting information on grants and nonprofits. Type in the name of an organization or keyword to find nonprofit group information.
  6. JoeAnt: You can get answers to research queries on any subject at JoeAnt, from computers to science to politics to the humanities to business law.
  7. Find Tutorials: Find tutorials for practically everything on this search site, from education to culture to spirituality, to finance to the Internet.
  8. RefDesk: RefDesk is known as the “fact checker for the Internet.” You can search MSN, Google, Yahoo! or Wikipedia, as well as various dictionaries and periodicals.
  9. OneLook Dictionary Search: Get detailed definitions, translations and more on this search engine, which pulls from over 1,000 different dictionaries.
  10. The Dictionary of Free Online Books and Shopping: Look up and access books online for free using this search engine, which includes educational books, history books, children’s books, biographies, political books and a lot more.
  11. Thinkers: Wisdom: This site features a literary search engine called Wisdom that can search the web, images, audio, video, a dictionary and more.
  12. Information.com: Use the web search or search encyclopedias, blogs, articles and online groups to get creative with your reference search.

Library Search Engines

Check out these search engines that are designed to emulate or are sponsored by libraries and librarians.

  1. Internet Public Library: Find references, search the collections by subject, check out the reading room or KidSpace when you visit this online public library.
  2. The Open Library: Here, librarians discover “one web page for every book.” This open source project also features an advanced search, connecting you to the exact book and full-text publication you’re looking for.
  3. Awesome Library: Find full-text books, journals, kid-safe sites, business information and more on this online library search engine.
  4. LibDex: Search the indexes and other information for 18,000 different libraries here.
  5. WorldCat: WorldCat helps patrons and librarians “find items in libraries near you.” Search for books, DVDs, CDs and articles.