Customized Search Tool for Reference Sites

Bill Drew of the Morrisville State College Library has created a custom search engine that aggregates content from more than 200 reference sites.

The sites are those included in the 1999-2006 annual lists issued by the Best of Free Reference Web Sites Committee of the Machine-Assisted Reference Section (MARS) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of American Library Association (wow – I wonder what the committee president’s business card looks like!).

The search engine is built using Google Custom Search Engine. Essentially, it is now possible to create a search engine that only covers the specialized websites one wants.

On my Library Boy blog, I have pointed out other custom search engines that librarians and others have been building:

  • New Search Engine for Library Blogs (October 29, 2006): “LisZen is a new customized search engine that searches the content of more than 500 library-related blogs.”
  • Customized Search for Intergovernmental Organizations (November 16, 2006): “The people at Indiana University Libraries in Bloomington, Indiana have developed customized search tools for IGOs – intergovernmental organizations like the World Bank, the European Union and the UN.”
  • Blawg-Finding Tools (November 22, 2006): “Well, the Law Dawg Blawg, created by law librarians at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, describes ‘New Tools for Finding Blawgs’ in a post from November 18, 2006.The post describes 2 finding aids: the refurbished site (…) and the search engine BlawgSearch.” The search engine on is based on the Google custom search technology.
  • Customized Search For French Legal Material (December 15, 2006): “More and more libraries and individuals have been using tools such as Google Coop to build customized topical collections of searchable online material.The French blawg Doc en Vrac has a recent item about a number of searchable collections, including French-language blogs and legal material from France, Belgium, Switzerland and Quebec.”


  1. When I posted about the CSE tool back in October, I was hoping for this type of fast adoption rate. I can’t help but think though, we’ve only seen the beginning of the possibilities for this tool.

    Also, here’s a great article a creating advanced CSEs, and how to weight different sources.