Librarian conference

Fight the fake, find the facts: 7 superpower searches

Internet Librarian Conference 2017

Ellie Fowkes continues her write up of her conference trip.

Mary Ojala: Celebrate your super search powers

Mary talked about the 7 search powers that librarians need to equip themselves with. She started off by stating that  ‘our work starts where Google ends’:  anybody can search google, but not everyone searches it well.

Super Power 1: Use Multiple Search Engines: look beyond ‘’.  Each search engine will give you different answers and results.

  • Use country versions of google e.g
  • Duck Duck go – this search engine doesn’t track you or store personal information
  • WolframAlpha – for numbers and statistics
  • Wayback Machine digitises search archives and it is possible to see what websites look like 20 years ago

Super Power 2: Use Advanced Search  (where it is possible, however, this is becoming more difficult because the search functionality is being behind the scenes)

  • Use search syntax and know your searches
  • Phrase searching requires quotation marks for more precise searching
  • Word order is significant. You will get different research results if you change the order of words.
  • Use synonyms for a more comprehensive search
  • Specify language as a prefix

Super Power 3: Non-textual search

  • Searching by and for images, video, audio and datasets. Google, Bing and Yandex each have separate image databases but you have to be aware of copyright issues! Images aren’t copyright free.
  • ‘Creative Commons Org’ Search for copyright free images
  • Non-textual search engines Youtube, Vimeo, Flickr
  • Reverse image searching – search for a specific image online to see if anyone else is using it going to


Super Power 4:  Use specialised topic-specific search engines

  • Biznar (business)
  • Millie (marketing intelligence
  • PubMed (health)
  • Academic search engines – google scholar and Microsoft academic
  • Subscription databases


Super Power 5: Scepticism

  • Can I trust this? Is it real? Is it true? Just people believe top search results have been curated by a human for their search, they don’t believe they are computer generated.


  • Look for dates, timeliness, the sources of the information – don’t take it for granted that the information will be true!


Super Power 6: Ethical Behaviour

  • Copyright issues – journal publishers pay for exclusive access to content so it if journal content should not be duplicated or disseminated anywhere else.
  • Some sites such as SciHub are pirate sites are violating copyright

        Super Power 7: Know how search works

  • Understand search technologies and how they produce their search results
  • Personalisation – many websites are developed for shopping and personal use, not library use


On the whole Mary’s message is that librarians have to keep up by:

  • staying up to date,
  • use multiple search engines
  • use multiple devices and browsers
  • include non-textual formats
  • go directly to the website if appropriate

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.