Internet Search Engines

Finding information on the Internet can be like trying to find a specific item in a junkyard.
  • There are several reasons for this. Anyone can - and anyone does - put up a web page.
  • Content and format are not standardized.
  • There are no indexing conventions.
Committees of librarians from the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada worked to develop cataloging rules. Punctuation marks, forms of names and places, and other elements have been standardized so the information on catalog records is the same, no matter which automation system a library uses. No such standardization exists for Internet web pages.

Librarians have also standardized subject headings. A person can go to any library, in person or through the Internet, and use the same subject search terms in the Library of Congress or the smallest public library. In contrast, there are no standardized subject headings for the Internet, nor is there a standard location for information about the website.

Because the Internet has not lent itself to being organized, people have developed a variety of methods to search the web. (Otherwise, finding information online would be like searching for a needle in a haystack without knowing which haystack contains the needle, or what the needle itself looks like.) The search sites listed here are taken from guides prepared by Carole Leita of the InFoPeople project, supported by the U.S. institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

Subject Directory Database

  • Infomine - Scholarly Internet resources selected and annotated by UC librarians.
  • Librarians' Index to the Internet - Resources useful to public library users, evaluated and annotated by librarians.
  • Yahoo - Submitted web pages. Topic and region specific Yahoos-Kids (Yahooligans), Japan, Los Angeles.

Meta-Search Engine Database

  • AskJeeves - Answers to millions of questions from evaluated sites. Searches Alta Vista,, WebCrawler, Excite, and Uses natural language; good for simple questions.
  • - Searches Alta Vista, Fast Search, Excite, HotBot, Infoseek, MSN, Yahoo, and more. Aggregates and ranks results. Eliminates duplicates.
  • MetaCrawler - Searches Alta Vista, Excite, Google, Infoseek, Lycos, Yahoo, LookSmart,, and more. Can customize.

Search Engine Database

  • Alta Vista - Full text of web pages. Ask Jeeves question answers. Usenet group postings. Real-Names, corporate, product finder
  • Excite - Keywords of webpages, including most archived mailing lists.
  • Fast Search - Full text of web pages. Lycos partner databases.
  • Go Network, Powered by Infoseek - Full text of web pages, news (Reuters), companies (Hoover's Online), and usenet groups (
  • Google - Full text of web pages. Ranks searches based on number of links to a page.
  • HotBot - Full text of web pages. Partner databases: Cars (Autoweb), jobs (CareerBuilder), stocks (Stockpoint), news (30 days' worth), email and white pages (Big Yellow), yellow pages (At Hand). Owned by Lycos.