Review: Finding Reliable Information Online

Finding reliable information online: adventures of an information sleuth by Leslie F. Stebbins.

Finding Reliable Information Online by Leslie StibbensI may be a fantasy writer, but I’m also a librarian!

This is a very chatty and thoroughly well-researched book on finding information. Stebbins covers six key strategies to finding information online, and looks at the major pitfalls; relying on crowd-sourced information, taking Google’s top results as trustworthy, being aware of our own biases and motivations, and deciding what level we wanted to search at; was surface good enough, or did we need to check the Deep Web? Do we need expert level opinions, or crowd?

Stebbins has written an article over at CILIP that covers her main points, but it certainly doesn’t detract from the book; she expands on her searches and explains both her motivations and her methods in an interesting (well, to an information professional) and engaging style. There’s plenty of references and follow-up information, and it’s a nice easy read; I was able to skim whatever sections I wanted (which wasn’t many, it’s all interesting!) and the writing is both informative and amusing. I saw myself in many of the incidents…not to say I’ve spent several hours going completely off-track to try to work out if a researcher is trustworthy, but I can’t categorically deny I’ve done something similar…both with fiction research and with ‘work’!

So, definitely worth a read if you’re interested in searching online for information, have a curiosity about how you search, or simply want some guidance on techniques to help you be more effective.

Ps. I’m adding this to my Discoverability Challenge list, as I hadn’t read anything by Stebbins before.