Phelps Research


Hey all —

I’ve been mighty busy lately, so I may have to take a hiatus from blogging for a bit, but in the meantime, I did want to highlight another blog worth bookmarking for monthly Web tips:  Phelps Research.

Marcy Phelps shares “tips for finding, organizing, and sharing information, as well as book reviews and industry updates” in her blog. Also, be sure to check out and/or subscribe to her monthly ResearchNOTES.


Testing Out Web Links

Have you ever visited a brand new Web site or just visited your favorite one on a regular basis , and the next week, could not access it any more?   And yet you notice that others can still access it while your computer brings up a blank screen that seems to be going nowhere?

To check the status of a Web link, plug its URL into “Down for Everyone or Just Me?” and you’ll discover whether it’s just your computer or if the Web site’s server is actually down.  A handy tool if you ever sit in front of a computer screen waiting endlessly for a Web site to load up!


All good things must come to an end. One of my favorite current awareness sites packed with pithy articles (some contributed by Web searching gurus) about researching companies and people, fine-tuning search strategies, and legal research strategies–will alas, be coming to an end.

Genie Tyburski of The Virtual Chase reports that her Web site will be coming down starting in May 2009. So check this site out before its doors close in a few months. Cheers to Genie for keeping this site intact over the years for legal researchers and Web searchers alike!



Many general search engines like Google and Yahoo return long lists of search results from a multitude of sites. RefSeek reminds me of Answers.com, as this search engine, designed for students and researchers, concentrates its search on more academic Web sites, books, encyclopedias, journals, and newspapers.

Explore Refseek’s directory which consists of 12 subject categories including some unique ones like Bookmarking and Teacher Resources.

Thanks to Phil Bradley’s posting for highlighting this unique online search tool for the scholarly-oriented community.

Dissecting Databases


When working in libraries, you will often have opportunities to experiment with trial databases. Sometimes you might not know where to start, what to do, which features to examine, etc. Do you look at the coverage, search options, titles indexed, or what?

The UCLA Library has a handy 2-page document entitled “Dissecting a Database: Teaching Yourself How to Search” on their Databases Tips page. Click on this link to pull up the PDF document and apply these questions the next time you get stuck on what you should examine when test running a potential subscription database.


The San Francisco Public Library has expanded access to its online resources! If you are a California resident, you can apply for an e-card directly online now and access a multitude of subscription databases, e-books, downloadable audiobooks and music, and much more. Turbo charge your library card! For more information on applying for a card, check out the FAQ. And while you’re at it, here are 52 ways to use your library card as we move into the new year.

When you spend a lot of time conducting online searching, it’s often easy to revert back to basic keyword searching. Suzanne Bell, an economics/data librarian in the Rush Rhees Library Reference Department at the University of Rochester, has an upcoming second edition of her book entitled The Librarian’s Guide to Online Searching.  Although the search strategies discussed apply to subscription databases, some of the techniques can still apply to searching the Web.

You might even want to track down her “Tools Every Searcher Should Know and Use” article published in the September/October 2007 issue of Online Magazine.  Very practical tips to sharpen your search strategies!