I'm revising a paper this week in a sort of intensive way by going to a "faculty writing retreat" at our writing center. It's great. The director basically sets up a coffee machine, gets some pastryish snack foods, and welcomes faculty. And we spread around that area of the library, and work for the morning until we're ready to be done.
So there's sort of the feeling that I need to be responsible and go, because I said I would, and so I go and get a lot done. And at the same time, it's not a real responsibility, and very relaxed, and no one's looking over your shoulder about when you leave and such.
And, most important, no one is trying to talk at me.
So the other day, I realized that I hadn't cited a source that I'd found on line. So over there, I signed into one of the campus computers and searched for the source. (I needed volume 2 of the transcript of the Stationers' Register from before 1640.) I found volume 1, and I found volumes from after 1640, but the volume I'd quoted in my essay, nope. I must have spent half an hour trying various search strategies, until I finally gave up.
I had hope that I'd bookmarked it on my office computer browser. Or that I'd bookmarked it on my own laptop. And as a final thing, I could ask a librarian to help, but I wanted to check the others first.
So when I left the library that afternoon, I stopped at my office.
And I hadn't bookmarked it.
But in a sort of random gesture, I did a search using EXACTLY the same search terms I'd been using on the campus computer. And voila, at the very top of the page was the source.
So now I've bookmarked it and also emailed myself the URL.
I think I use a different search engine in my office (DuckDuckGo) than the campus set ups do (Bing). But you'd think that Bing would still find the source, even if it weren't on the top page, right? But I was looking at listings on Bing that had nothing to do with the Stationers' Register, and I went through several pages. And I tried to creatively limit my searching.
I should go try the DuckDuckGo engine on one of the campus set ups, and see if it gets the same result.
I have to say, one of the frustrating things about using on line sources is that finding stuff feels way more hit or miss than with more traditional sources. Maybe that's because I'm using different search engines, but back in grad school, when I'd use different libraries, I could still reliably find book listings at both (if they had the book).