Why shouldn’t I just use Google?

Librarians don’t hate Google! Google does a lot of really great stuff–even working with librarians to improve searching techniques, access and preservation efforts. However, do you know what it is that you search when you’re searching Google?

You are searching advertisements, organizations, government sites, businesses, individuals’ sites, the list goes on and on and on….just like your results pages. Google casts a wide net.

What is it that you find when you search Google? The old standard–.com is commercial, .org is reliable organizations, .edu are educational institutes–is no longer true. Anyone can register sites with these domains. The algorithm Google uses to rank your results is a mystery, but we do know that a site’s relevance can be manipulated and that, usually, the first results you see are paid advertisements.
Craigslist is one of the websites using a .org domain

Additionally, you know those eerily specific ads you see in your Gmail or your Google results page? Google doesn’t just specialize the ads for you, your search results are also personalized. So a Google search conducted by me, will be different from a Google search conducted by you based on our individual browsing habits.

Here’s an example of the difference in ranking results depending on the user

The library might not have the one search box for easy access to all library resources, but that’s because we want to ensure the results you’re getting are precise and accurate. For example, you wouldn’t want to read an article about robotics from an engineer’s perspective unless you were an engineer, so using a general database will be more appropriate for your search rather than a subject-specific database.

While it does take a little more time on the front-end to find the correct database and develop your search keywords and strategy, you will be saving time on the back-end by not having to worry about evaluating your source’s credibility and not sorting through millions of irrelevant results!

I’m not saying you shouldn’t use Google, I’m saying you shouldn’t only use Google when you want to ensure the information you’re consuming is the best that’s out there.

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