Book Review: The Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook: A Guide for the Serious Searcher

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Hock, Randolph, The Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook: A Guide for the Serious Searcher, 4th Ed. (Medford, N.J.: CyberAge Books, 2013), 344 pp., incl. index. ISBN: 978-1-937290-02-3, $24.95 (softcover).

The Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook: A Guide for the Serious Searcher, 4th Edition, discusses research strategies and internet tools to effectively and efficiently locate information on the internet and the “deep web”. In the introduction, the author makes a point of noting that most people learn about the internet by using it, but don’t have a comprehensive source pulling the information together in one handy reference like this one. Although much of the material is too basic for the research needs of most law librarians, I would recommend this book as a basic reference source especially for use with students and other patrons. In addition, I see value in using portions of the book in legal research instruction.

Overall, I was disappointed that the author focused on “basics” when the title of the book implies that the reader will already be a well-informed researcher. Chapter 1, covering background material and research strategies, was designed for someone with a very basic skill set. Chapter 2, covered directories and portals even though the author freely admits that many researchers no longer use directories, especially general directories. I was concerned that the book began by explaining very basic internet concepts and the substantive discussion opened with a resource that is generally out of favor. I would like to believe that he did so to explain the concept of moving from a general search strategy to a more specific strategy.

Fortunately, chapters 3 and 4, on search engines, explained concrete skills to improve results when using search engines. The 25 pages covering the details of specialized searching in Google is good reference material that could be used to help students improve their research skills. And, although the information covering other search engines was not as comprehensive as the Google discussion, the chart that compares the features of the four search engines discussed, is useful reference tool.

I found chapter 6, An Internet Reference Shelf, interesting because it provides a snapshot of what an expert in the field views as the most important online reference sources. I thought this was a very good collection of basic sources that would be useful for conducting research in a wide range of topics. Again, this would be a good collection for students or patrons, but I would expect librarians to be aware of most of these resources.

The rest of the chapters provide an overview of search strategies in a particular type of resource, such as images or news sources followed by a list of websites and a corresponding description of the website. These chapters were much more focused on lists of sources without going into any great detail. Again, these sources can be a good reference list. It was in these chapters that I discovered a few new and interesting sites.

The book concludes with a glossary of terms and a list of all of the URLs that are mentioned throughout the book as well as an index. The URLs are also available at the site www.extremesearcher.com The author has published a new edition approximately every three years, and updates the material on the website between print editions. Current updates cover changes to the Google results pages.

Laura Ax-Fultz is the Access Services/Reference Librarian at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law in University Park, PA.

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