Stanford University Libraries

Advantages and Limitations of Computer Searching


  • Fast
  • More Current
  • More access points
  • Search several variables simultaneously
  • Internactive capability to alter search strategy online
  • Bypass indexing pecularities
  • Indexing of useful articles can be displayed; an aid for improving search
  • Usually can search a larger file simultaneously than in printed index
  • No printed counterpart
  • Access not limited to use in library


  • Literalness of computer operations
  • Dependence on index policy; knowledge of index policy essential
  • Dependence on indexer viewpoint
  • Some questions are not appropriate for computer searches:
    • general information about technique
    • when browsing is helpful
  • Computerized file often covers fewer years than printed index