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ENGL 1102 IA: The Web vs. Library Databases

How searching online search engines is different than searching library databases

Searching library databases is different than searching using any of the large, commercial online search engines.



  • Sentence searching or "Natural Language"

    • Online search engines can find relevant results if you type a sentence into the search box. Library databases generally will not return relevant results if you type a sentence into the search box.
    • Library databases use "keywords" and "subject terms" combined with "Boolean operators" (see the "Narrowing Your Results" tab for more information on Boolean operators) to search for relevant results.




Below you will find examples of how online search engines and library search engines, in this case Discover Galileo, handle the same sentence.


Compares the results of a search in Google (left) and a search in Discover GALILEO's interface (right). When searching what is the governmental structure in Belize, the Google search results articles about the Belize government and politics. In the Discover search, the results do not seem relevant. Some pull out particular keywords like Belize.


The results in the Discover Galileo search are very different than the online search engine results. The results in Discover do not mean the library databases do not have the information requested. The Discover search engine simply cannot interpret the sentence correctly.