Life as a Librarian

Warner Library vs Google

Written by Laura O’Reilly, Access Services Librarian

We all do it. Even librarians. Yep, Google seems to be the fastest, easiest way to find information; however, is it unbiased, accurate, and reliable? Is it really a time saver when you have to sort through 4 million results, many of which have been placed on your results page because someone paid to have them there? Let’s compare Warner Library with Google. We’re confident you will conclude Warner is the better choice when doing academic research.

We’ve done some of the work for you, because library resources are carefully reviewed and selected by librarians, professors, and subject area experts. We look for reliability, relevance, accessibility, and value to academic research.

We respect all copyright laws to ensure the content creators are fairly compensated for their contribution to the world’s store of knowledge. You can be sure if you retrieve it from our databases and use best practices in scholarly writing, you are unlikely to break any copyright laws.
Use Library Search Tools
– to find articles in scholarly journals
– to find articles published in popular magazines
– to search databases that index articles in many academic disciplines
– to find well researched books on your topic
– to locate the full text of articles or books that are copyrighted
Information retrieved by Google does not go through a review process. Anyone can publish on the web, and anyone can pay to be sure they get top placement on the search results. There is even a chance some results may be censored, so you’ll never see them.

It is also fairly common for people to break copyright laws and publish materials that they do not have the right to publish. This is illegal, and harmful to those whom the intellectual property belongs.

Use Google Search
– for information on specific non-profits, corporations, or other organizations
– for current information such as news, weather, stock quotes
– to research a well-known event or individual
– for online job postings, shopping, auctions, or travel services
– to find opinions on a topic

What about Google Scholar?

Google Scholar might be a place to start if you’re going to combine it with the Library’s journal databases. You don’t want to use it as your sole search source, though, because:

  • Not everything in Google Scholar is scholarly. It includes unreviewed reports, industry propaganda, and other materials mistakenly indexed.
  • Google is not transparent about what it actually covers within the scholarly realm. Researchers cannot know how far back their index reaches or if it’s comprehensive.
  • Google Scholar takes information out of context, and does not show the range of publications in a discipline.
  • Researchers with an agenda can “game” the Google Scholar system to make their work look more important and valuable than it is.

Bottom line, Google is great in some contexts including as an adjunct to library resources; however, if your goal is efficient, ethical academic research, Warner Library wins every time.

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