SLAV Online Book Club June 17th 2021 – Speculative Fiction

Our thanks to those of you able to join us for our recent book club meeting to discuss speculative fiction. As always, so many of you had so many wonderful contributions to share with us, and it is very appreciated. We have an additional resource the What If List (generously shared by Susan La Marca) that you are welcome to download and use.

Below is the list of titles and series shared and discussed. Some titles may have an indicated suitable age range next to each title, however this is merely a guide and we encourage you to use your own judgement, as you know your students best.

We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting on Wednesday August 11th 2021 to discuss titles for engaging reluctant readers.

Disclaimer: The lists generated as a result of Book Club discussions are not, by any means, an exhaustive list of all titles or authors for each genre/category discussed. Nor will all titles be suitable for all libraries. We advise staff discretion when referencing these lists, to properly confirm individual title suitability for individual libraries, school and students needs. These are suggested titles only, shared by our members and inclusion on, or exclusion from, a list does not suggest SLAV endorsement or rejection of a title.

Titles Discussed 

Dry by Neal Shusterman
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Game Changer by Neal Shusterman
The Sky So Heavy
After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson
How to Bee by Bren McDibble
Wasteland by Susan Kim
Rain by Virginia Bergin
Future Girl by Asphyxia
Slated by Terry Teri
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi
Hive, Zero Hour and Rogue by AJ Betts
Wool by Hugh Howey
Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness
Virozone by Sarah Cole
Gone Series by Michael Grant
Monument 14
Whisper by Chrissie Perry
Left-handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix
All Rights Reserved
The End of the World is Bigger Than Love by Davina Bell
Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Road the Winter Series by Mark Smith
The Secret Runners of New York by Matthew Reilly
The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni
Monuments and Rebel Gods by Will Kostakis
Proxy by Alex London
The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda
Disruption and Corruption by Jessica Shirvington
Lock In by John Scalazi (For older readers yr 9/10)
Matched by Alie Condie
1984 by George Orwell
A Wizards Guide to Defensive Baking by T Kingfisher
War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
The Gathering by Isobelle Carmody
Coraline and The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
When we are Invisible by Claire Zorn
Highway Bodies by Alison Evans
Host by Stephanie Meyer
Noughts and Crosses by Marjorie Blackman
Obernewton by Isobelle Carmody
Warcross and Wildcard by Marie Lu
The Gilded Ones by Naomi Forma
Lifelike by Jay Kristoff
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
Seahearts by Margo Lanagan
Ink by Alice Broadway
The Power by Naomi Alderman
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

What We Are Reading

The Convict Valley: The Bloody Struggle on Australia’s Early Frontier by Mark Dunn
The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julia Gillard: Women in Leadership
Vox by Christina Dalcher
The Last Survivor by Tony Park
The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World’s Greatest Library
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The Silent Listener by Lyn Yeowart
The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair
Last Boat Out of Shanghai
Curse So Dark and Lonely Trilogy by Brigid Kemmerer
A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell

SLAV Book Club July 29th 2020 – Reluctant Readers






Our biggest thanks to those of you able to join us for our recent bookclub meeting, sharing with us your tried and tested recommendations for reluctant readers. As you can see the list is quite lengthy, which is a wonderful result! We have indicated suitable age range next to each title, however this is merely a guide and as always we encourage you to use your own judgement, as you know your students best. JF – indicates Junior Fiction, MG – Middle Grade, YA – Young Adult, A – Adult.

We have linked each title through to the Readings Website. Please keep in mind that if an item is out of stock, it may take some time to become available again, particularly if it is coming from overseas.

Disclaimer: The lists generated as a result of Book Club discussions are not, by any means, an exhaustive list of all titles or authors for each genre/category discussed. Nor will all titles be suitable for all libraries. We advise staff discretion when referencing these lists, to properly confirm individual title suitability for individual libraries, school and students needs. These are suggested titles only, shared by our members and inclusion on, or exclusion from, a list does not suggest SLAV endorsement or rejection of a title.

Happy reading and don’t forget to join us for our next meeting on August 27th 2020 to dicuss book covers! Register HERE.

Books that have been turned into films often work
The Enemy Series by Charlie Higson YA
Polly and Buster Series by Sally Rippin MG
Choose Your Own Adventure by George Ivanoff MG
Real Pigeons Fight Crime Series by Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood JF/MG
Swerve by Philip Gwynne YA
Pale by Chris Wooding YA
Cherub Series by Robert Muchamore YA
Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz YA
The Bad Guys Series by Aaron Blabey JF/MG
The Fall and Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks MG
Royal Flying Doctor Series by George Ivanoff MG
Escape From Furnace Series by Alexander Gordon Smith YA
Wings of Fire Series by Tui. T Sutherland MG
Warrior Cats Series by Erin Hunter
Rangers Apprentice Series by John Flanagan MG
The Witching Hours Series by Jack Henseleit MG
Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens MG
Ruby Redfort Series by Lauren Child MG
It by Stephen King A
Skullduggery Series by Derek Landy YA
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen YA
Exploding Endings by Tim Harris JF/MG
The Minutes to Danger Series by Jack Heath MG
Scythe, Toll and Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman YA
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney MG
Treehouse Series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton JF
Bro by Helen Chebatte YA
David Walliams Books MG
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (post movie) MG
Barrington Stoke Series (for students with reading difficulties) MG – YA
Orca Series JF
Weirdo Series by Ahn Do JF
Able by Dylan Alcott YA
Audio books were also suggested as a way into story
Graphic Novels and Manga also allow a way into the story through illustration
Amulet Series by Kazu Kibuishi MG
Sport Biographies
Nova Weetman titles ALL
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck YA
Garfield JF
Lark by Anthony McGowan YA
Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall MG
Once and Then by Morris Gleitzman MG
Grimsdon by Deb Abela MG
Ghost by Jason Reynolds YA
The Dog Runner by Bren McDibble MG
The Stubborn Seed of Hope by Brian Falkner (short stories) A
The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley MG
The Girl Versus the World Series by Various MG
Speak and Shout by Laurie Halse Andersen (trigger warning – sexual assault) A
One by Sarah Crossan YA
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers YA
Nit Boy by Tristan Bancks JF/MG
Life On the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers YA
Risk, Black, Wreck and Found by Fleur Ferris YA
Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link (short stories) YA
M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman (short stories) MG/YA
The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman YA
Road to Winter Series by Mark Smith YA
10 Futures by Michael Pryor MG
The Iron Man by Ted Hughes MG
Lips Touch by Laini Taylor (short stories) YA
Things a Map Won’t Show You (short stories) YA
Little Legends Series by Adrian Beck and Nicole Hayes JF
Specky Magee Series by Felice Arena MG
Take the Shot by Sue Whiting YA
Tiny Timmy Series by Tim Cahill JF
Sporty Kids by Felice Arena JF
The Legend Series by Michael Pankridge MG
Foul Play by Tom Palmer YA
The Bench Warmers by David Lawrence MG
Little Fur Series by Isobelle Carmody MG
More Than a Kick by Jennifer Castles and Tayla Harris ALL
Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi YA
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier YA
The Breakways by Cathy. G Johnson MG
Boris Series by Andy Joyner JF
Selby Series by Duncan Ball JF
Rabbit and Bear Series by Julian Gough JF
Parvana by Deborah Ellis YA
Tom Weekly Series by Tristan Bancks MG
All Graphic Novels by Raina Telgemeir MG
One of Us is Lying Series by Karen. M McManus YA
Special Forces Cadets by Chris Ryan MG
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo YA
The Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer MG
Heartstopper Series by Alice Oseman YA
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas YA
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han YA
Unwind by Neal Shusterman YA
Ice Station by Matthew Reilly YA

What We Are Reading
Anything by Dervla Mc Tiernan A
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid A
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson A
Factfulness by Hans Rosling A
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah A
Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift A
This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay A
Gulliver’s Wife by Lauren Chater A
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins YA
Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me by Kate Clanchy A
Smart Ovens For Lonely People by Elizabeth Tan A
Deep Water by Sarah Epstein YA
Every Tool is a Hammer by Adam Savage A
About a Girl by Rebekah Robertson YA
The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina A
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett A
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens A
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George. M Johnson YA
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta YA
Missing Person by Sarah Lotz A
The Second Sleep by Robert Harris A
Phosphorescence by Julia Baird A

SLAV Virtual Book Club List June 18th, 2020

We were delighted to welcome so many of you to our second SLAV Virtual Book Club for 2020. Thank you for joining us and for your participation.

As promised we are sharing the list of titles discussed below. Members were invited to share their favourite Australian titles, whether they are new releases or perhaps, overlooked gems. We have so many wonderful Australian writers for young people of all ages, it was very difficult to cover them all with only an hour to discuss!

We have linked each title through to the Readings Website. Please keep in mind that if an item is out of stock, it may take some time to become available again, particularly if it is coming from overseas.

Disclaimer: The lists generated as a result of Book Club discussions are not, by any means, an exhaustive list of all titles or authors for each genre/category discussed. Nor will all titles be suitable for all libraries. We advise staff discretion when referencing these lists, to properly confirm individual title suitability for individual libraries, school and students needs. These are suggested titles only, shared by our members and inclusion on, or exclusion from, a list does not suggest SLAV endorsement or rejection of a title.

Australian Middle Fiction Discussed

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai
E-boy by Anh Do
Sophia and the Corner Park Clubhouse by Davina Bell
Game On Series by George Ivanoff
Angel Creek by Sally Rippin
Threads of Magic by Alison Croggon
Nice Girls Don’t Play Footy by Kathy Helidoniotis

Australian YA or Adult Fiction Discussed 

How to Grow a Family Tree by Eliza Henry Jones
Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club Series – Alison Goodman

Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Simone Howell and Fiona Wood
The Diamond Hunter by Fiona Mc Intosh
The Yield by Tara June Winch
The Ghost and the Bounty Hunter by Adam Courtenay
Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany
Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany
The Medoran Chronicles by Lynette Noni
Everywhere, Everything, Everyone by Katie Warner
The Unlisted Series (ABC TV tie-in) by Chris Kunz and Justine Flynn
The Aurora Cycle by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The End of the World is Bigger Than Love by Davina Bell
Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller
Deep Water by Sarah Epstein
Ashala Wolf Series by Ambelin Kwaymullina
My Place (abridged Young Readers Edition) by Sally Morgan
The White Girl by Tony Birch

More Middle Grade and YA Australian Authors (to name only a few…)

Will Kostakis

Leanne Hall

Jane Godwin

Adrian Beck 

Felice Arena 

Nicole Hayes

Robert Newton

Tim Pegler

Melina Marchetta

Emily Bitto

Ceridwen Dovey 

Sonya Hartnett 

Resources for selecting Australian Fiction

The Readings Children’s Book Prize

The Readings Young Adult Book Prize

The Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction


Inside A Dog 





NEW! Discussion Forum

SLAV have started a Discussion Forum where members can share and discuss ideas and resources. To start off, we have created four threads that respond to the current crisis. They are:

Online learning resources
Safety precautions in school libraries
Tasks for working remotely
Wide reading lessons online

We have also created an open forum that allows you to pose a question, on any topic, to the SLAV Community.

The Discussion Forum can be accessed via the link below. The system will prompt you to sign in with your SLAV member username (the email address we have for you in our system) and the password you have set.

Once in the forum it is just a matter of replying to one of the threads to start sharing and contributing.

You can tick a box to receive emails about new posts. Join the Discussion Forum HERE.

Online resources

During this time, there are many lists being shared that can help you find quality resources to support online learning in your school.  We look for institutions that we know produce reliable and authentic information, and are collating a page of links to resources, guides and useful information HERE for ease of access. We will continue to update this page as we find new resources to share.


Professional Learning Resource Round Up

As we all respond to the directives and guidelines in relation to COVID – 19 our association is working hard to ensure we are doing all we can to support our members.

With some schools needing to close for indefinite periods of time there may be a need for your school library staff to indicate ways they are exploring professional learning during a period of school closure or changed operations.

To assist, we have created this post, listing a range of professional learning opportunities made available to members.

A range of presentations from past Professional Learning Events can be accessed via the SLAV Member Login page HERE.

Over the past two years we have created podcasts of all of our Reading Forum events as well recording a selection of presentations given at our major conferences. These podcasts are available to anyone online and can be accessed HERE.

Synergy is our online, research based, journal. The most recent edition of the journal is closed to members only but all other editions of the journal are made freely available in light of the Associations interest in being collegiate and supportive of the wider professional community. We encourage you to explore the wealth of information from current and past editions HERE. 

Digital issues of our publication – FYI – can be accessed HERE. 

As a SLAV member, you also have access to resources from the International Association of School Librarianship through our partner membership status. There are some wonderful resources to be accessed on the IASL website and we encourage you to find time to explore them. Login details are available on our Member Login page.

Finally, a word on our 2020 Professional Learning Calendar. As we advised in our most recent newsletter we are doing all we can to ensure we are keeping our members and presenters safe, and are responding to guidelines and directives accordingly.

Events – cancellations and postponements

Our March 23 conference has been cancelled.

The IB workshop to be held in conjunction with DATTA Vic at Kardinia College on April 16 has been cancelled.

Our May Masterclass in conjunction with LMERC – Powering Learning: Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives has been moved to September 4.

Our May 29 Conference – School Libraries: Powering Primary has been moved to September 14.

The National Education Summit on August 28 and 29 at MCEC, a strand of which we are a partner in providing, has been postponed to a later date yet to be announced.

All other Reading Forums, Workshops and Masterclasses

The remainder of our program are events that are to be held in school venues. At present we are continuing to plan and offer these events on the understanding that a decision will be made a month to two weeks out from each as to whether they are to go ahead. As it is very difficult to know exactly where we will be in two months’ time this approach is hopefully the best response in unknown times.

If you have any queries about this, please contact the SLAV office on 0477 439 593 or email

We encourage all members to stay in touch with each other in these challenging times. Our branch structure is an excellent source of local support.  We encourage you to reach out and offer collegiate advice wherever you can and to ask if you need help or assistance. Our social media platforms can also be a source of connection. Please do reach out, we are open to assisting you in any way we can.

Google Cultural Institute – art, history, geography


If it’s been a while since you last visited the Google Cultural Institute, it’s time to revisit but be sure to leave time for exploration.

The Institute now consists of:

  • Google Art Project: Containing artworks, sculpture and furniture from large and small galleries across 40 countries. See the art in situ in galleries with a walkthrough using Google Street View. Explore the interiors of landmarks such as the Palace of Versailles or, build and share your own virtual art gallery
  • Historic Moments: Glimpses of significant moments in history have been created from primary source materials by people who have a story to share. The Solidarity and the Fall of the Iron Curtain: Poland 1980
  • World Wonders: Bringing modern and ancient world heritage sites to life using Street View and 3D modelling. Explore the natural wonders of Kakadu National Park and the historic archaeological areas of Pompeii.

See Collections:

An added experience for those who have become, or wish to explore Google+ Hangout is to host your own virtual tour and become a Tour Leader in the great art galleries of the world.  Simply go to Google+ (you’ll need to sign in to Google with your account) and ‘start a video Hangout’.  You’ll see the invitation to take a tour presented on the screen.

This value of this resource as a learning tool is immense. Whether the activity be historical, artistic or geographical, Google Cultural Institute offers the opportunity for students to interact with the content and to create their own objects by exploring the work of others. It’s highly recommended and supported by lesson plans for a range of year levels.  Start exploring today!

Mind tools – What does it mean to be literate in the age of Google?

With the holidays here, we thought we could share a longer video with you, particularly given it’s one of the best videos I’ve watched about information literacy. It’s comprehensive, current, and logical in its flow. I thought I knew a lot about information literacy – now I know a lot more.

The presentation comes from Dr. Daniel Russell, research scientist at Google and took place in March this year at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina.

He begins by calling a library a mind tool that ‘amplifies your cognition’. Wonderful stuff.

We hope you have a happy, safe, chocolate filled holiday and we’ll see you next term.



Talking about content curation

Rhondda Powling was part of  a group, including staff from the State Library of Victoria, who presented at SLAV ‘s ‘Be in control: participate in the new age of school libraries’ on the value of personal learning networks, workflows and online tools. This guest post reflects on her presentation exploring content curation. You can find Rhondda’s blog here.

I was asked to speak about ‘Content Curation’ at a recent SLAV conference. You could say a lot about curation but I was asked to do two short sessions about ten minutes long. What to include in this brief session and what to leave out was a conundrum. I wanted the topic of curation to make sense. I tried to focus my thoughts on what I believe curation means to me. Why is it important to my learning, how do I use it with colleagues and students and why should I? So this is my experience of curation.

The phrases ‘content curation’ and ‘digital curation’ are buzz words in the online world, especially in my library networks. Although curation tools are many and varied, the approach I take when running sessions for teachers at my school is that when used properly, these tools enhance professional learning.

The AITSL Professional Standards for Teachers includes a section on Professional Engagement. The first paragraph under this is ‘Teachers model effective learning’. They identify their own learning needs and analyse, evaluate and expand their professional learning, both with colleagues and individually. One of the ways to demonstrate this kind of learning is through professional reading. It is easy to keep a record of professional reading and evidence of learning and sharing if you become a good content curator. Content curation also covers the collegial aspect.

Content or digital curation is not simply collecting links. Many teacher librarians, myself included, have been collecting links (for example: school topics, research) for years. So:

  • it’s not really a creating process as such but rather a process of sorting, arranging and then further publishing about information that already exists in the online or digital world
  • it is a process of first finding digital content that might be useful then sorting the results into the best and most relevant links, value adding with annotations and then sharing them in meaningful (organized) ways.

Good curators identify and define their topics or subjects at the outset. They then select what to keep whilst providing some context and annotation. Good curators make sure they correctly credit the sources as they offer their networks appropriate and easy access to their curated sources.

How to begin curating

Focused filtering and selection is a very important aspect of effective curation. Try to be as clear as possible about what you want. There are many ways to locate good content especially if you use social media. There are also many tools for curating. See my Google doc for some suggestions These are tools I use or others that I have seen. Some I do not use myself but they are recommended by other colleagues. Another post about curation tools that is worth looking at is 55 Content Curation Tools To Discover & Share Digital Content, which includes an annotated list, from the TeachThought blog.

Robin Good is an expert when it comes to the topic of content curation. He has extensive knowledge of the practices and tools and his comprehensive map of content curation tools and skills is divided into key categories. There are over 250 tools in this collection, so be prepared and take it slowly.

I have found that the best way to choose a curation tool is to be as clear as possible about what you want then spend some time looking for the tool/s that best suit your needs. That means, as you begin, have a ‘play’ with different tools and evaluate them critically. Some tools offer more advanced filtering search options than others. Some are more visual. Of course, as with everything in the digital world, things may change and what works for a while may alter its perspective and/or no longer continue to meet your needs.

I use around five main tools that allow me to find information and links. I actively search for information on specific topics and follow a number of people and groups using social media who have similar interests to me. These include my Diigo groups, and authors via gmail notifications and summaries. I usually get daily, but sometimes weekly, summaries sent to me.

I do not regard Twitter as a curation tool but I find it very useful (via groups and hashtags) to locate possibly useful content. If I don’t have time to read it fully, I use Diigo’s “read later” option to help me filter out what I want to annotate and keep. Twitter is also one of the ways I inform others in my networks about possible sources that may also be of interest to them. Pinterest and are both curation tools that I use often and they make it easy to share to other social media platforms.

When I first began I looked at what others were doing. Here are a selection of people I follow:

 by cambodia4kidsorg

I think it is important that the task of curating becomes a regular one, part of the daily routine. Beth’s suggestion about timing is a good one. I try to go through my lists most days. If, after a week I haven’t got to suggested sites, I usually delete the suggested lists, as new ones keep coming in.

My time was up. This was as far I got with my coverage of the topic. There is more I could discuss especially how it might be used to assist student learning.

I left the group with a second graphic that offers a good visual about the process of curating.

 by cambodia4kidsorg

And these videos about why it’s important to curate.


Image credit: Alfred E. McMicken, (1936) Greenville Public Library, [mobile library service] [picture], State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection.


Using search operators

Search operators are everywhere – embedded in searches without our knowledge. But with a little practice, you can improve and refine search results by actively choosing which operators you use. Google is a global search phenomenon, mainly due to its ability to simplify web search. They’ve achieved this in part by automating and hiding deep search operators, simplifying the user experience. Every time you enter more than one word into Google, it creates a Boolean search, inserting AND between each word. What this does is prioritises pages which include all of the words in your search. Although Google makes some refinements for us, we can still improve our searches with simple operators. Try adding the terms and symbols listed below to search engines, databases and catalogues to see the difference. It’s important to note some common operators won’t work in Google because they’ve developed their own terms for certain functions. You can find search tips in the Google search guide.


Wildcard operators let you substitute one of more letters with symbols. This lets you search for words with multiple spellings, singular and plural forms, parts of words or even words you don’t know how to spell. Asterisk * An asterisk stands for any number of characters and is particularly useful when you are searching around the root of a word. Here are a few examples:

  • pigment* – pigment, pigments, pigmentation
  • writ* – write, writes, writer, writers, written, writ, writs
  • myth* – myths, mythology, mythos

Question mark ? A question mark stands for one character and is very useful if you are uncertain of spelling. More than one question mark can be used for multiple characters.

  • relev?nce – relevance or relevence
  • ?nquiry – inquiry or enquiry
  • licen?e – license or licence
  • ?????ology – psychology, musicology, oceanology


Quotation marks around a phrase or number of words prioritises results containing the exact phrase.

  • “Box Hill”
  • “oh my love is like a red red rose”
  • “Albert Einstein”


Minus is a very useful operator if you know that a word has multiple meanings in different contexts and you only want to get results from one of these areas. In Google the minus sign must be next to the word being omitted with no space preceding.

  • magpies -football will return results about birds and not Collingwood football club
  • batman -comic is more likely to return results about Victorian pioneer John Batman instead of the caped crusader…

Minus is very powerful as it tells search engines to throw out everything including the word you’ve chosen so use in moderation.

Proximity operators

Proximity operators look at how words appear on a web page, specifically how far apart they are. The assumption behind this kind of search is that the closer two words are together, the more likely they’re related. For example:

  • kangaroo NEAR kimberley finds results where the first word (kangaroo) falls within 50 words of the second word (kimberley)
  • kangaroo w/10 kimberley finds results where the first word (kangaroo) falls within 10 words of the second word (kimberley). The proximity number (n) can be any number you like. eg. (w/100, w/33, w/70)

Boolean AND/OR/NOT

Boolean search, incorporating the operators AND, OR and NOT, was common before Google, but nowadays it’s often dismissed as being too complex. This is a shame because Boolean can give you more control over complicated searches, refining down very quickly to specific results. It’s important to note that AND, OR and NOT must be in capitals for search engines to recognise them as operators. As mentioned in the introduction, Google already puts AND between words when you type them into a search, so you don’t need to include this operator in a Google search.  NOT works very like the minus operator, dictating what you want to omit. OR allows you to broaden your search to include overlapping areas between search terms.

  • dogs OR cats (this will find pages about either dogs, cats or both)
  • dog NOT cat (this will find pages about dogs that don’t mention cats)
  • dogs OR cats AND training NOT football (this will return results about training your dog or cat, but will exclude results about football clubs called cats or dogs)

Search operators are a great example of how we can be much smarter than search engines when we’re active searchers instead of passive consumers of Google results. A powerful idea for students in particular! For further information, the Gale Group has a great page on search operators and this guide to Boolean originally from the Syracuse University Centre for Science & Technology provides, includes some simple examples of search strings.

Image credit:  Alfred E. McMicken,(1936)  Interior of library, possibly Greenville [picture], State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection