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Friday, November 10, 2006

So what is a CSE, anyway?

There has been a bit of discussion lately on whether or not enough librarians have been blogging about the relatively new Google Co-op project (, which gives users a chance to create Custom Search Engines (CSE). In response, I thought it was time for me to say a little something about CSE and the opportunity they present for libraries and library users.

CSE's have the potential of creating more focused, topical searches of the Google database. The CSE creator (anyone can play) chooses URLs to include in the search. What you end up with can be a search engine limited to sites that you expect will return great results on your topic. And, as you create the CSE, you can still choose to include general Google results in your CSE results (but with primacy given to your chosen URLs).

An example of a CSE is David Rothman's "Consumer Health and Patient Information Search Engine" ( It's a great collection of sites, pretty well fine-tuned to provide health and medical information for the average Joe from respected government agency and health organization sites.

A potential fear to have here is that, since you are choosing the sites, you might miss out on information on sites that are unknown to you or from newly created sites. One man's focus is another man's having blinders on, I guess. Anyone who has used Google knows that searching the full swath, even with a well constructed search and the relevancy sorting of the search engine, can be improved on. This might be a good start. I'm going to give it a try, and I'll post my results here.

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