Monday, October 3, 2011

When You Absolutely, Positively Have to Know

The other day I watched a friend trying to find some information on the open internet. It was a fairly straightforward question that should have been fairly easy to answer, yet he tried again and again and could not come up with anything useful. I could see that he was using ineffective search terms and strategies, and I offered a few suggestions for how to formulate the search, but…no go.

Finally, he gave up, saying, “The information is simply not available. I give up.”

I took his place at the computer, and typed in my search strategy. I found what he needed in about twenty seconds: it was on the first page of the first hit in my search results.

This may sound like bragging, but it isn’t. Rather, it’s my suggestion that you consult an information professional when
* you need information quickly
* you need specialized information
* you need a very broad search over many disciplines
* you are getting nowhere with your own search strategies
* you are sure that “information is simply not available" 

Research professionals are trained not only to find the needle in the haystack, but to know which haystack to search, how to sift the wheat from the chaff, and how to present the wheat so that it's ready for you to use. We are quick, we are efficient, we are knowledgeable, and we love the thrill of the search.

When you need information, contact your corporate librarian, check in with your public library reference staff, or ask an independent information professional for specialized support. Not only will you be more likely to get the information you need, but you will receive better, more complete information, from more authoritative and reliale sources, all delivered in the way that best suits your needs.

If you prefer to do your own searching, ask your librarian for how best to attack the haystack. Many libraries or information consultants offer search training.

Several years ago, the American Library Association had a great slogan to promote library services: "When you absolutely, positively have to know, ask a librarian." With the immense volume (and patchy quality) of information available today, research and information professionals are your best research partners.

I’m a proud member of the Association of Independent Information Professionals, an international group whose members offer research expertise in almost any industry, specialty, or subject you can imagine. Visit to browse the member directory of consultants around the globe.

When you absolutely, positively have to know, ask a librarian.

For more information:

Peregrine Information Consultants
Association of Independent Information Professionals

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