Information Retrieval


Flawed Online Searches Cost Businesses $31 Billion Last Year

According to a survey released by FIND/SVP, 84% of business executives feel that Web searches -- using the generally consumer-centric search engines now available --take longer than they should due to poor results. It is estimated that the loss of productive time using search engines to conduct online research cost businesses $31 billion last year.


Clustering search engine

nbruce writes "Try the Vivisimo search. It has a clustering feature that is very nice--reminds me of what librarians try to do with cross references and referrals.

I tried "academic libraries" getting 141, with clusters referring to research libraries (26), public and academic libraries (14), various directories, associations etc. But some libraries have embedded the term so I also got specific libraries like Texas A&M and Abilene Christian."

LOC Chooses 4 Universities for Preservation Project

Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Old Dominion University and Stanford University are the four institutions chosen by the Library of Congress (Federal Computer Week) to test procedures for handling large digital collections slated for long-term preservation.

The four will test varied methods of sending and receiving a variety of information formats(12G) from a collection involving September 11, 2001, now stored at George Mason University.

FTC Issues Final Rule on Free Annual Credit Reports

Under the final rule, the nationwide CRAs must establish a “centralized source� for accepting consumer requests for free credit reports (called annual file disclosures in the final rule). This centralized source must include a dedicated Internet Web site, a toll-free telephone number, and a postal address.

One of the rules of the centralized source is it "May collect only as much personally identifiable information as necessary to process requests."

For the complete story, visit the Federal Trade Commision for the Consumer's website.

Why civilians use Google rather than library databases

David Rothman writes this very insightful commentary about why Google is friendlier than proprietary databases.

"Public librarians love to talk up library databases as a free way to access high-quality information. But wait. There is something you may give up in return--your sanity, considering the Rube Goldbergish tortures that librarians or at least their database vendors often inflict on innocent users.

So far this morning I've struck out in my efforts to use two of the three databases that I've tried from the library system here in Alexandria, VA. One worked but lacked the article I needed, while two others won't let me use the information on my library card--those 14 infuriating digits. Adding to the joys, I've suffered an arrogant, jargon-ridden error message associated with BigChalk Library, a gem that would do Microsoft proud. Via the message, the library system or at least BigChalk is asking me to scale back on privacy protections--rather ironic, given library world's laudable fight against the Patriot Act. I'm hardly the first to raise these issues, at least the usability ones; but as a public library booster, I hope that my thoughts will serve as a useful reminder of the problems. More at TeleRead."

Texas Libraries Eliminating D.B.s

The AP reports that financial shortfalls are causing Texas libraries to drop two popular databases from its collections: HeritageQuest and STAT!Ref. The two sites are primarily used for research by genealogists and medical students.

There may be a slight reprieve however, as the Dallas Morning News reports that library officials are starting a fund-raising campaign to keep the databases on-line. Freedom of Information alert for librarians

Anonymous Patron shares this story with us.

"Industry experts have renewed their warning that the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, which comes into force next January, will place major new pressures on information professionals.

"The issues are as much cultural as technical or legal," said Guy Daines, principal policy officer at CILIP.

"The whole organisation needs to be aware of its responsibilities, otherwise it risks failing to comply with the Act."

Experts agree that librarians need to reassess their view on the information they hold.

"The library stock is information," said Martin Hughes, an FOI officer for the Scottish information commissioner, saying users will have rights of access to that data."

Scientists seek 'map of science' to monitor the progress of science in the digital age

Pete sends "This BBC report which states that according to reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, science is the most interconnected of all human activities, and requires a new series of maps to chart the changing scientific landscape.

Knowledge has left books and libraries and is now changing more rapidly than ever before, say researchers."

The High Cost of Not Finding Information

Cliff Urr writes "An article to pass on - urgently, asap - to your library administration, board or senior management! This superb article is distinguished by its sharing *much facts and figures* on what the author calls "information disasters" in terms of dollars and cents, as well as the human and even tragic costs of bad or insufficient information. This article is published in a journal that caters to an industry that seeks to provide software solutions to these problems, but I think most of what is stated in the article can be used to justify the critical need for capable and well-trained librarians just as much, or more so,, to deal with these problems."

Searching the Internet for Images

The Technical Advisory Service for Images published this article about searching for images. The article describes how hard it is to find images and gives search strategies for finding the image you want. A very informative and useful article.


Burn the Catalog!

madcow writes "An academic at Swarthmore gives a pretty succinct critique of the problems of information overload and the library catalog. "I’m to the point where I think we’d be better off to just utterly erase our existing academic catalogs and forget about backwards-compatibility...""

The "forgetting curve"--NASA

bentley writes "The Los Angeles Times ran a thorough six-part series (Dec. 21-26) about the space shuttle Columbia. In part 4, there is a section about the importance of institutional memory.

Earthquake database shakeup

rteeter writes "On a day when a magnitude 6.5 quake hit California comes word that Earthquake Engineering Abstracts, which had been a free database at UC Berkeley, will soon become a fee-based database at Cambridge Scientific Abstracts."

NY Times Newsroom Homepage

Gary Deane sent us a link to a list of web resources recommended by the New York Times. It's quite a collection of links, including sections for Net Search, Journalism, Politics, Sports, and Miscellany.

Don't use Google exclusively, but don't count it out, either.

David Dillard invites us to read his lengthy post on NetGold about how search engines, while not the end-all of research, do have their place in scholarly information retrieval. Specifically, he was looking for references to the term "Tourismification" in order to respond to a discussion thread in a sociology forum. He had no luck with the social science databases he normally turns to, but Google found him paydirt:
Notice the Google search picked up in the
first ten records sampled mostly scholarly work.... Peer reviewed literature may be much more palitable [sic] to the academic scholar in terms of
its academic ethnic heritage, and the World Wide Web may be viewed as having been raised on the bad side of town. Nevertheless, not looking at
all possible search tools for a topic, particularly a hard to find topic may only result in impoverishment of the search result, and we all know that low income can send publications to live in the bad side of town.

Search Better: Go Back to the Library

Lois writes "PC Magazine's cover story in the May 27 issue is "How to Find Anything Online," by Sean Carroll. It contains many useful tidbits, including comparisons of search engines.

One tip in the "Search Better" section of the article should be of special interest. It's called, "Go Back to the Library". It reminds readers that "Library reference departments are still great sources of information, even in today's online environment. Many of the indexes, directories, and encyclopedias you used in print have been reformatted and are available online." It encourages them to "ask a reference librarian to help you get started, since each library's collections and policies are unique."

It also points out that "Anyone can put up a Web page. Library databases are created by well-known publishers and are evaluated carefully by librarians before they are purchased." So library databases are a good source for quality information.

PEEPs in the Library

"Although scientific and health research has been conducted on Peeps, most notably that appearing on the Peep Research website (see, we have noted an absence of research focusing on the ability of Peeps themselves to actually do research. To address this lack, we invited a small group of Peeps to visit Staley Library at Millikin University during the week of March 17-21, 2003 so that we could more closely observe their research practices. This was determined to be an ideal week for the Peeps to visit the library, as Millikin University students were on spring break. The research that follows documents their visit to the library and provides some evaluative commentary on our assessment of Peeps and library usage.
Read On For The Full Project "

Columbia Disaster & the Internet

RedLineIs writes \"Even in the midst of sorrow and disaster, internet information offers some solace and support. Two links from the Wall Street Journal’s OpinionJournal “Best of the WebToday” concerning the loss of the astronauts on the space shuttle Columbia are illuminating.

The first, “The Web Gets a Scoop”, notes that first word of the disaster “didn\'t come across the Associated Press wire until 9:16, the scheduled landing time. Free Republic scooped the AP by at least 11 minutes--which is an eternity in the competitive world of wire-service reporting.”

The second, “The Price of Appeasement”, brings to world’s eyes a drawing entitled “Moon Landscape” that was carried on Columbia. It was the work of Peter Ginz, who was murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz in 1944. “Peter was 14, so if he had lived, he would be about 10 years younger than John Glenn. Who knows--if the West had stopped Hitler earlier, Peter Ginz just might have grown up to become an astronaut.” The original work is now lost, of course, but because of digital libraries and the internet, the artist and his work can be remembered by all. Additional information is available in a press release from the museum which held the work, “Holocaust-era Art from Yad Vashem’s Collection sent into space with Israeli Astronaut” \"

Genealogy Exploding Online

Gary Deane was kind enough to point at \"This NYTimes Story that says online genealogy sites have amassed more than a million paid subscriptions and annual revenue approaching the $100 million level.

\"The Internet has really fueled this activity because it\'s made it easy to transfer data, collaborate and do research without traveling around,\" said Curt Witcher, president of the National Genealogical Society. \"It\'s been phenomenal.\"

Meta search engines

Sabrina Pacifici writes \"The Meta Search Engines: A Web Searcher\'s Best Friends, by Daniel Bazac, takes on the topic of the often maligned meta search engines. He reviews a wide range of services according to: the amount and the relevance of their results, their capability to handle advanced searches, their ability to enable users to customize searches, and the speed of their searches. New on LLRX for September 16, 2002.


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