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That’s right. Not everything is on the internet. Even though it seems like there’s an endless amount of information when you do an internet or Kirkwood library search there’s a whole lot of information that will never be found that way.

Think about how information gets “on” the internet. Some person or entity has to put it there.  They have to decide to do it, and then do it. When you write your Composition I paper does it ever make it to the internet? Did you or your instructor decide to put it there and then did you do it?

Why would some information NOT be on the internet?

It isn’t always practical. Not everybody has the financial or technical means, or even the time, to digitize and load their content to the internet.  Back to your Comp I paper.  It’s probably already in a digital format because you typed it in Microsoft Word, but what if it wasn’t? How would you get it that way? And where would you put it? Do you have a website? Can you get it published? Do you have the time?

Copyright.  If an item is copyrighted, it can only be placed online legally if the appropriate permissions are given.  With copyrighted works, you usually have better luck finding them through subscriptions to publisher sites or online databases like Ebsco. That’s great if you have access through a library or school but not so great if you’re at home doing research using a free search engine like Google. Even if you’re at the library, they have to subscribe to the database that contains what you’re looking for. These items usually won’t be freely available on the internet because somebody is in the business of making money from them.  You might say all information should be free but think about your great Comp I paper. It was REALLY good. Do you want to let everybody read it and use it for free or would you rather make a little money from it?

What about really old stuff?  Consider an article published in 1935. It may not be restricted by copyright, but to be available online somebody had to have a copy and then decide it was worth the effort of scanning and loading – not to mention making it findable.  It might be rare that you need a paper from 1935 but there may be a time when that’s just what you need.   Don’t lose hope!  Your library can probably get the older item for you through interlibrary loan. Don’t know what that is? Ask your librarian!

What about really new stuff?  Sometimes it just takes time for things to make their way to the internet. How quickly will be loading your Comp I paper?  And sometimes a publisher will “embargo” their publications – meaning there’s a period during which access is not allowed to some users. So even though a journal may be included in a library subscription, the latest several months may not be available to those users.  During that time publishers give access to their direct subscribers. They do this to protect their revenue.  When this new information is just what you need, contact your librarian.  We may be able to get it another way.

These are just a few of the reasons not everything is on the internet.  If any of these things trip you up, or if you need help with any other research problems, be sure to contact your friendly, helpful librarian.