Choose the Best Search for Your Education Need

I need to define my topic…

I need to understand the scope of my topic

I need to see related topics

  • Google – Uncover buried sites using “related searches”
  • Bing – Search for your topic, then drill down “related searches”

I need to refine and narrow my topic

  • iSeek Education – Ask a question or search a topic in this database of “trusted resources” – use “targets” to refine search
  • Wikipedia – Drill down “Contents” to explore subtopics

I need background on possible topics

  • SweetSearch – A selective search of Web information for students
  • Wikipedia – Search this wiki (quality content is starred), then follow article links to more information

I need to find quality results…

I need authoritative sites chosen by an expert researcher

  • LibGuides – Librarian-created topic pathfinders
  • Infotopia – Customized safe-search of educator-selected sites

I need personal help from experts

  • Ask an ipl2 Librarian – Get answers from volunteers and grad students in a week (K-12)
  • Ask a Librarian – Library research questions answered in five days (no homework questions)

I need sites ranked or tagged as valuable or relevant

  • – High ExpertRank indicates subject-specific popularity

I need primary sources

I need to do research in a specific discipline…

I need official government information

  • – Search official U.S. government information and services
  • Directgov – Search or browse official UK information and services

I need in-depth information about a country or unrepresented territory

I need reputable health information

  • Mayo Clinic – Browse by disease or search conditions, symptoms, tests and health topics
  • KidsHealth – Health information directed to kids, teens or parents

I need legal documents, agencies or news

I need creative and performing arts sources

The timeliness of information that I need is


  • Google News – View top news stories and refine by category or topic
  • NewsNow – Search breaking global news headlines or newsfeeds (UK service)


  • Google – Search and limit by time period, or choose “timeline” (from “more search tools” on left) to see a topic’s evolution
  • Yahoo News – Search recent news and filter by time period (“past week”)

recent (with analysis)

  • Times Topics – Collected news, reference and archival information, photos, graphics, audio and video files about topics
  • PolitiFact – Search news keyword or browse fact checking of statements made by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups

long-term investigative reports

  • ProPublica – News investigations of significant government, business, and institutional wrongdoing
  • Center for Public Integrity – Original reporting of public issues designed to make “institutional power more transparent and accountable”

a particular time period (decade, century, era)

  • HistoryWorld – Enter year event to retrieve timeline, then click on icons for information or images
  • Wikipedia: List of Timelines – Browse Wikipedia’s list of timelines (civilizations, people, events, etc.)


  • American Memory – Search America’s primary source documents and images, browse by topic, time period, medium or place
  • ipl2 – Drill down into the history section or search fewer, broader terms (e.g., “terrorists” not “Righteous Path”)
  • Digital History – High-quality historical resources, primary sources, multimedia, subject guides


  • Ancient History Sourcebook – Search online ancient-history texts, images, audio, or browse by region, period (e.g., Persia, Late Antiquity)
  • ipl2 – Drill down into ancient history section or search fewer, broader terms (e.g., “Greece” not “Spartan women”)

I need facts…

a person

a place

  • Country Studies – Cross-search or view a country (last update 1998) – historical, social, economic, political and national security data
  • Stately Knowledge – Basic U.S. state facts, links to state government site and encyclopedia (IPL KidSpace)

general reference answers

  • – Find a fact, biography, statistic or conversion, or reference answer
  • Yahoo – Learn shortcut words to get quick answers

I need opinions and perspectives…

I want opinions on current issues

  • PollingReport – Browse results of U.S. public opinion surveys
  • Issues & Press (U.S. Dept. of State) – Investigate U.S. position on international issues

I need news from other countries’ perspectives

I want multiple perspectives on hot social and political topics

I need a specific type of media…


  • Google Maps – Search and view satellite and street-level maps
  • MapMachine – Search, browse and print country, physical and political maps

photographs and visual images

  • Google Image Search – Use advanced search to limit by size, coloration, file type
  • Yahoo Image Search – Use advanced search to limit by size and coloration
  • Flickr – Search users’ photos by their subjects (“tags”), then choose a subtopic (“tag cluster)

fine art

  • Artcyclopedia – Search (e.g., artist, medium, movement, subject) or browse for digitized art and online exhibits, see actual size


  • Yahoo Video Search – Search by keyword or phrase, use advanced search to limit by file format, size, duration and domain
  • YouTube – Search for, watch or buy an ever-growing collection of TV shows, movies, music videos, documentaries, and personal productions
  • Internet Archive: Moving Image Archive – Search public domain films, newsreels, ads, documentaries, television series and other “cultural artifacts”



  • Google – To find song lyrics, search (in quotes) title or performer (plus) “song lyrics,” to find information about the song’s history search title (in quotes) and “origin”


  • FindSounds – Get sound effects and music samples: select a keyword or search a term limited by file format, quality and size


  • American Rhetoric – Search site or browse categories of full-text, audio and video of American public speeches, lectures, debates, interviews, events
  • History and Politics Out Loud – Search or browse full-text public-domain audio with transcripts of 20th century political and historical events, personalities, and protest songs
  • American Memory – Find sound recordings of American primary source speeches


dictionary or thesaurus (for definitions, etymology, pronunciation, synonyms)


  • Wikipedia – Volunteer-created and collaboratively edited: valuable for current topics (e.g., people in the news), technology (e.g., podcasting) — information quality uneven

almanac data

books and other printed works

  • WorldCat – Search for books and reviews, options to refine results, check your local library’s holdings
  • Google Scholar – Search (free and fee) scholarly works, locate related information using “cited by” links, use advanced search to limit (author, date, phrase, in title, subject area)

I have special search requirements…

run my search periodically and be notified of new results

  • Google Alerts – Run periodic Google searches and get e-mail (no RSS) notification of new results

specify a country where my search results are located

  • Google – Limit by domain (advanced search) or by country (Language Tools)

use a search engine outside the U.S.

find sites organized by the Dewey Decimal System or Library of Congress Classification

  • Virtual LRC – Select Dewey Decimal number before searching

locate resources by file type

  • Google – Limit search by file type (.pdf, .ps, .doc, .xls, .ppt, .rtf)
  • Yahoo – Limit search by file type (.html, .pdf, .doc, .xls, .ppt, .xml, .txt)

I am…

a kid

  • KidsClick! – Find kid-friendly sites with educational content (grades K-7) selected by librarians
  • Yahoo Kids – Select from kid-safe sites (grades 2- 7) organized by topic

pretty new to the Internet

  • Google – Largest general purpose search engine
  • Yahoo – Large, general purpose search engine
  • ipl2 – Easy-to-navigate, well-annotated directory of librarian-selected Web sites

an Internet wizard

  • Exalead – Configure highly-specific searches including proximity (“folk tales NEAR sun”), but smaller index than Google or Yahoo