Don’t get me wrong. I’m a librarian. I love searching databases. I enjoy the exercise of massaging search strings and subject terms. I thrill at getting a list of results with super relevant hits. But, if I only explore online image collections that have searchable indexes, or failed to just browse those collections, I would miss out on finding some amazing images I need.
Take the example of Ancestry.com—it is a collection of databases. You can search them all using their big front-page search box. But you can also pick a specific database, for example, City Directories, and search only those records. Or you could browse in the same way you would browse through the pages of the book. Instead of looking in the book’s index or table of contents, you flip through the pages (or screens) looking for items of interest or just seeing what strikes your fancy.
Another reason browsing is important is because the terms you use to describe an image or record may not match the terms used in the index, so you could miss out on your target entirely. What’s a fun reason to browse? Anyone who’s browsed a flea market, a bookstore, or an online image database and found that amazing collectible, book, or photograph knows that feeling of serendipitous discovery. As if we were guided to that great find. Give it a try. Browse.
Go to the VideoGenealogy.in Resource page to find online image archives where you can practice your browsing. Enjoy!
Photo credits: Ryan McGuire, Pixabay; Stux, Pixabay