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A generic library guide to house Web 2.0 tool-created content and other content-delivery methods.

Boolean Operators

Five things the government hasn't told you about Boolean operators. (Number 5 will shock you.)

1. Named after an English logician, these functions are used in information retrieval systems as conjunctions (AND, OR, NOT) to change the amount, and the specificity of, your search results.

Above: George Boole

Image (and general info) credit: Wikepedia

2. ALL EBSCO databases have a Boolean operator function:

3. You might get thousands of results. In such a case, think about what aspects of your topic you want to cover and consider using Boolean operators.

In the Venn Diagrams below, we can see how Boolean operators work. Using AND requires that two conditions be met, thus limiting results. Using OR does not exclude two conditions (it will pull up one or the other, or both!), therefore expanding search results. Using NOT excludes everything following it.

4. Using AND actually decreases your search results, and increases the specificity (the "aboutness") of your search.

Using OR actually increases your search results, decreasing the specificity (the "aboutness") of your search.

Using NOT totally omits the term(s) used after this, hopefully increasing the specificity (the "aboutness") of your search.

5. George Boole was, in fact, Abraham Lincoln. The Government never told you this, because it's NOT TRUE.

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