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Research Commentary on the Spire Project

The Distinct Aspects of Rapid Internet Research.
By David Novak

This article first appeared in print in ONLINE CURRENTS December 2003, Vol.18 No.10, pg 20-24, an Australian Journal


The Reference Librarian can focus on just a subset of internet research skills. Some techniques are simply too arduous or contrary to the task of providing rapid answers and guidance to users questions. The task of comprehensive searching, as distinct from locating one or two useful resources, can be intensely frustrating and time consuming. There are improvements to mindlessly paging through search engine results (even very focused results) but are they required in a reference setting? Probably not. Other skills are more important, like non-linear searching and URL interpretation: techniques that hustle the process along. This article provides and overview to aspects of internet research.

Comment - This article emerges as I prepare to teach the Librarians of the State Library of Western Australia. Having looked at the AskNow! reference service in action, I was stunned to see that the reference librarian does not use and may not need some of the techniques and concepts I have been perfecting these last few years. Maybe this explains why so many internet experts focus so completely on the search engines. This article became the way I grappled with this issue. I concluded that reference work is very different to researching for oneself. This article, to a popular Australian trade magazine, will ensure I did not miss the plot.

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