"Boolean Searching" Lauren Matacio *

 Introduction "The world is full of obvious things, which nobody by any chance ever observes," according to the fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles. A knowledge of Boolean searching is an important survival skill for the 21st century. Why? Because successful computer searches are the key to finding the valuable needle in the growing haystack of information. Boolean searching is computer searching based on the logic of the 19th century English mathematician, George Boole. The main operations of Boolean logic are and, or, and not. These magic words describe to the computer relationships between subject terms.

 Activities: "Human Boolean Operators" Give the students a brief survey and ask them to fill it out for use in the class. Explain to them that they are creating a record that will be used to make a database of their group. Then use the records to formulate Boolean commands, such as: "All those wearing white shoes and a red shirt or blouse, please stand." This illustrates the term and (show card with Venn diagram). "All those wearing white shoes or a red shirt or blouse, please stand," (diagram). Then search the library catalog or other databases using these principles. "Using Tattooing to Teach Boolean Searching" Write down on a piece of paper the types of people to get tattoos. Break into small groups of 2-3 people. Discuss responses and pick one of the examples to share with the whole group. Write each group's example on the board. Then introduce the idea that a search needs narrowingby using the Boolean term and Search in the catalog or database such as WilsonSelect for tattoos and bikers separately and then with and & or. "Boolean Burritos: How the Faculty Ate Up Keyword Searching" Props: Ingredient cards - egg, cheese, potato, beans, salsa, vege-sausage, wham, onion. Operator cards - and, or, not (two sets). Pass out ingredient cards and sets of operator cards. Then ask participants to make an order. Ingredient cards stand up and operator cards must go between them. How would you order a combo with everything except onion or dairy? How would you order egg with vege-sausage or wham? The natural culmination of this exercise is to serve breakfast burritos. "Using an Ordinary Cookie Recipe to Illustrate Boolean Searching" Props: Transparencies or hand-outs with a basic cookie recipe. From ingredients list, have each student write five statements using at least two ingredients and one Boolean operator. You may add other ingredients (note which are essential, which are optional). Discuss how the combinations will affect the resultant mixture in taste, texture, and volume, etc. Recipe: ½ c. butter, softened 1 ½ c. flour ½ t. allspice 1 c. sugar ½ t. baking soda 1/4 c. milk 2 eggs ½ t. baking powder 1 c. raisins ½ t. salt 1 t. vanilla extract 1 c. chopped nuts 1 t. cinnamon 1 ½ c. rolled nuts

 B i b l i o g r a p h y: Ala, J. & Cerabona, K. (1992). "Boolean Searches: A Life Skill." School Library Journal 38:11 (Nov.) 42. Designs for Active Learning: A Sourcebook of Classroom Strategies for Information Education. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 1998. Lorenzen, M. (2003). Retrieved March 24, 2004 from "Using Tatooing to Teach Boolean Searching." Proctor, E. (2002) "Boolean Operators and the Naive End-user: Moving to AND." Online 26:4 (July/August) 34. York, S. (1999). "Boolean Burritos: How the Faculty Ate Up Keyword Searching." Book Report 18:2 (Sept./Oct.) 45-55.

 * Presented by Lauren Matacio - Instruction Librarian Andrews University - matacio@andrews.edu at the 24th ASDAL Conference, School Library Section - Florida Hospital - June 20, 2004