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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Summer 2004

Book Reviews

The Extreme Searcher's Internet Handbook: A Guide for the Serious Searcher

Margaret Henderson
Librarian/Web Developer
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Cold Spring Harbor, New York

The Extreme Searcher's Internet Handbook: A Guide for the Serious Searcher. Randolph Hock. Medford, NJ: CyberAge Books, 2004. 356 p. (ISBN 0-910965-68-4)

Not only is this a useful and well-organized book, it is also well written; which means it can be easily read and understood without 'dumbing down' the subject matter. The author, Randolph Hock, is a former librarian who now runs his own company that teaches courses and seminars on using the Internet effectively.

The book starts with the basics, including a few pages on the history of the Internet and what is available on the Internet. Librarians will recognize the basic strategies for conducting a search and will be pleased to see the suggestions for evaluating the quality of web sites and checking copyright.

The book then dives into the resources on the Internet. General directories are covered (e.g., Yahoo, Librarians' Index to the Internet) and compared to general portals, which are really just directories that provide a bit more content (e.g., Netscape, Lycos). There is also a chapter covering special directories and portals and how to find them. Next, search engines are covered (e.g., Google, Teoma), with information on how their search algorithms work and what they search. Boolean searching and searching and hints for specific material types (image, audio, URL) in all search engines are covered. (There is also a later chapter specifically on finding images, audio and video, and the copyright implications of using what you find). There is a great table comparing search engines and lots of hints on special features of each engine. If you tend to use one or two search engines, this will give you new ideas, plus show you how to search them as efficiently as you do your favorite.

There is a whole chapter on groups and mailing lists. Usenet groups are covered, including how to use Google and other web resources to find them, and how to post messages. Using Google to find specific messages, finding and using Yahoo groups and mailing lists, and a few netiquette points, are also covered.

There are many reference tools included, with brief descriptions of how and why to use them. The author has put all these tools (and the directories, portals and search engines in the earlier chapters) on an Internet web site where there is an attempt to keep the URLs up to date and include a few new sites. Encyclopedias, almanacs, dictionaries, addresses/phone numbers, quotations, foreign exchange, stock quotes, weather, maps, gazetteers, ZIP codes, statistics, bookstores, libraries, government and country guides, political resources, companies, full-text books and journals, associations, literature databases, professional directories, travel, colleges and universities, and film are all covered. News and shopping resources are covered extensively in separate chapters and these URLs are also included on the web site.

Finally, there is a short chapter on publishing your own web site or blog. The book includes a glossary of web terms and a list of URLs mentioned in the book. There is also a useful index. Tips in the margins throughout the book give further hints on how to search, etc. Figures throughout the book show you what to look for as you search.

This is an excellent book on searching and would be a good addition to any library collection. It is also a good resource for librarians. It is very important that we understand the tools patrons are using so we can explain why or why not, those general directories or search engines are the best tools for the question being asked. There has been much discussion on the net (see the 'Search Engine' category in The SciTech Library Question? Blog about patrons using Google before the library) so we need to be prepared to explain why PubMed and PsycInfo are better than a search engine. The book also provides a nice outline for a course on searching for those who are getting ready to plan new curriculum. Recommended for all libraries.

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