The InternetWhat's In This Module:
- What is the Internet?
- What Are Search Engines and Subject Directories?
- How Do I Use the Internet and the Library to Find Information?
- Sources for Background Information
The Internet is the world's largest collection of online shared resources linking libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, schools, universities, businesses, and people. There are literally millions of documents available to help support your papers and projects, but since anyone can publish on the Internet, the quality will vary greatly and you will need to carefully evaluate what you find. See Evaluating Web Sites for further information on this topic.
Although you can find on the Web some very current news stories and a few scholarly articles, most articles published in newspapers, journals and magazines are not available unless you are using a periodical index through the University of Maine System's library web site--Mariner. The Web is especially useful for finding:
- municipal, state and federal government information
- statistics, brief reports and studies
- news and current events
- information about educational institutions, companies and organizations
- some online journals and texts
- encyclopedias, dictionaries and other reference sources
- directory information--addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses
- links to library web sites
What Are Search Engines and Subject Directories?
A Search Engine is a program that can search the web for specific information. There are a number of search engines that keep track of everything on the Web, and you can use them for free. They allow you to scan the contents of Web sites with keywords, so they are especially useful when searching for specific information. No one search engine searches the entire Web, but rather they search a group of Web sites the engine has selected. Therefore, a search with two or more will give you different results. Choose one or two search engines, read the information on how to conduct a search usually found under the "Help" link on the screen, and become knowledgeable using those. Pay particular attention to the way search terms are entered for more precise results.
Some common Search Engines are:
- Google www.google.com
- HotBot www.hotbot.com
- Excite" www.excite.com
- Alta Vista www.altavista.com
- LookSmart www.looksmart.com
Many Search Engines offer the option to search using the subject directory approach. A Subject Directory uses broad topics that guide the user to more specific pages. You use your mouse to point and click from a broad topic to a progressively narrower one. Sites found are usually annotated and are often rated to let you know how relevant the site is for your search. Some common Subject Directories are: Yahoo www.yahoo.com
World Wide Web Virtual Library www.vlib.org
How Do I Use the Internet and the Library to Find Information?
The University of Maine System Libraries have most of their collections in Mariner, which is a web site on the Internet. Search Engines and Subject Directories will not get to individual items in Mariner. In order to search for content, you must go to the homepage and search individual parts--URSUS, Indexes and Databases, Special Collections, etc. Some of the searches will require you to have a valid University of Maine System library card. For help in searching Mariner, see in particular the modules on: URSUS and Finding Articles.
Look through the following sites from both the Web and Mariner to see how a combination of both types of resources will be helpful in your research.
Sources For Background Information
These sources offer an overview of topics, people, places and events.
Web Source and Library Resources
- Use a general encyclopedia for background information on most topics. The Encyclopedia Britannica is online and available through Mariner's Indexes and Databases page.
- Use a web index such as Google to search for an organization's web site.
- For government documents, see the Fogler Library's Government Documents home page for a comprehensive list of online government resources or use a specialized web index such as USA.gov to search government and military web sites.
- For statistics, check out Fedstats, or Data On The Net.
There are many other library (both print and online) and web resources for your research. Ask a librarian for assistance !!
Next Module: Evaluating Resources