National Library Week - April 13 - 19

Internet Browsing Basics

First, get those books you looked at.  Find words that describe the information you need.  For example, if you had to do a report on the state flower of Minnesota, you might already have the name of the flower (or do you?).  Now, what you want is a color picture to add to your report.  

There are a few ways to find what you need.

The first places to look should be our Homework Helper Page or online databases (a database is a collection of information, like an encyclopedia, on a computer).

Second, you could try using a search engine (a search engine is an Internet program designed to look for words in Internet sites), like Google or Yahoo, but be careful.  The trick with search engines is knowing the best words to type.  Do you want to type "Minnesota state flower" or "Pink Lady's Slipper"?  Remember, too, that you could get answers that are sites advertising pink shoes for sale.

How can you tell if a website is valid?  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the publisher or author of the website a person, group, or organization?  Are they recognized as an authority on the subject?
  • What is the intent of the information?  Is it commercial, educational, or entertainment?
  • Is there evidence of bias?  Is the author expressing personal opinions, prejudices, unfair judgments, or untruths, instead of known facts?
  • Is a bibliography of other publications or list of resources provided for you to check and compare the facts?
  • What is the date of the website's publication, and has it been updated recently?
  • Is there contact information for the authors or publishers?
  • Are there more reliable resources for the information that you need?

Besides checking for good websites, click here for important safety tips.