Score: Librarian–One, Google–Nothing!


wrigley's scoreboard
Wrigley Field’s Scoreboard (CC photo by Scott R Anselmo

When I first entered the library profession, I discovered a secret known to librarians far and wide.  There were many search engines to choose among, and librarians were particular in their preferences.  Search engines were like opinions- everybody had one.  I pity the fool who favored Infoseek or Magellan, because they have gone to the resting place of dearly departed search engines in the sky. (Not the cloud.)  Back then, a typical job interview included the question “What is your favorite search engine?”  There would be no “Ask Jeeves!” for me.  It was Google all the way, baby!   Say the word – get the job! BAM!  It was that easy!  Didn’t you know Google is my middle name? (That’s Carol Google Schapiro, if you please!)  Imagine my shock and disbelief when Google recently could not produce the results to which I have grown accustomed.

When a faculty member said “Red, I hear you are a librarian who knows how to get things”,  I replied, “Yes, I’ve been known to locate certain things from time to time.”  I start each search by checking the citation on Google.   This helps me verify whether the citation is correct.  Believe it or not, sometimes a faculty member will hand a librarian a citation with the author’s name misspelled, or containing an incorrect title.  To the average person, such an error is a minor transgression, but to the average librarian, it rises to the level of a felony.  The reason librarians are so fussy with citations is that even an expert searcher will be unable to find an item when given the wrong bibliographic information.

Another reason I search Goggle is that, on occasion, the item I seek miraculously appears there.  A journal might not be found among the databases to which I have access but it might be freely available online.  Open access, I love you so!  Sometimes entire journals can be found online, or individual authors might post their scholarship to share it with the world.  Narcissistic authors, I love you so!

Here is the citation I was given:

Milla, Ilana. Mipnei Darchei Shalom: For the Paths of Peace. Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles campus, 2012.

Armed with the citation above, I was transformed.  Suddenly I became Carol Schapiro, Thesis Hunter.

Princess Merida
Princess Merida, also a skilled hunter

This is what I found on Google Scholar:

Google Scholar
Google Scholar

 I found just a citation and nothing more.  There was no content, no number indicating how often the thesis had been cited, and no related documents.  Oh Google, you disappointed me.

My next step was to search, the” World’s Largest Library Catalog”, in order to see which of 10,000 participating libraries worldwide owned the thesis.   Maybe one of these kind institutions would be willing to lend it.  This is what I found:


How very unfortunate.  It appeared that this item was nowhere to be found, or at least, nowhere to be found according to WorldCat and Google.  This is where many would end their quest, but in case you don’t know me, I am known for my dogged persistence. (That’s why in certain venues I am known as Carol Bulldog Schapiro.)  It was my good fortune that the institution awarding the author her degree had an online library catalog, which I next searched.

This is what I found:Hebrew Union College 1

A non-circulating thesis- thanks for nothing!  But wait; there was something else I noticed.hebrew union college 2

Excellent, there was something to click on, and that’s just what I did.  The effort was not enough to give me carpal tunnel syndrome, but rather, yielded this.  My advice to you is to be tireless in your search. The web is deep, and search engines cannot possibly discover everything located there, even when they are hidden in plain sight.  Think outside the box and never surrender. You never know what you are going to find.

Be a search bulldog Photo by Sara Schapiro)
Be a search bulldog (Photo by Sara Schapiro)

Contributed by: Carol “Bulldog” Schapiro, Librarian, Midtown


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