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On finding Finding Dulcinea

Call it a response or a backlash or an adjustment.  Something is going on in the search world.

There’s a growing recognition that we need more than Google, we need to reach beyond the limits of keyword search to make sense of a crowded, media-rich information landscape.  In several upcoming posts, I’ll try to point to some of the newer kids on the block.

We’re seeing a flux of tools offering semantic results (see my post on the Horizon Report)

Semantic-aware applications: Semantic-aware applications are tools designed to use the meaning, or semantics, of information on the Internet to make connections and provide answers that would otherwise entail a great deal of time and effort.  These applications react against the limits of keyword searching and bring the promise of a better organized Web through used of structured data, meta-data tagging, and social networking.  Early examples of semantic search tools include Twine, Hakia, TrueKnowledge, and SemantiFind . . . See this EDUCAUSE article and this ReadWriteWeb post to learn more.

If FindingDulcinea is representative of search trends, we are also seeing renewed recognition of the need for human-aware tools, for tools that rely on judgment over, or in addition to, algorithm.

FindingDulcinea, a human-based search tool, calls itself The Librarian of the Internet, though I am not sure any librarians are really on the team of around 30 expert researchers, writers and developers

Nevertheless, in addition to LII and other favorite directories, I find myself regularly exploiting FindingDulcinea’s team, especially for their Web Guides (pathfinders in their own right) to help me build my own pathfinders.  I find myself forwarding links and guides to members of our faculty.  I cannibalize FD’s discoveries to include in my own curricular guides.  Their discoveries are  timely and seem to continually attack those topics my students research.

Reminiscent of the search (which those of us who are old as dirt may remember as the Mining Company) with its human guides and structured, contextualized presentation of results,  FindingDulcinea offers us more and far more attractively.

What does FindingDulcinea do right?  It organizes.  It evaluates.  It creates context. It is conscious of design. It gets media.

Our mission is to bring users the best information on the Web for any topic, employing human insight and methodical review.

FindingDulcinea presents only credible, high-quality and trustworthy Web sites, saving time for the novice and the experienced user alike.


The site delivers three major types of content:

  • Web Guides contain meticulous research and insightful annotations on hundreds of topics, from the very general to the most granular. (There are currently more than 550 of these which regularly include background, media, and primary sources.)  Don’t miss the Israel Palestine Conflict, Stem Cells, Teaching Resources, and Preventing Plagiarism.
  • Beyond The Headlines provides context to news stories with a range of annotated links including historical, academic and local perspectives. (This is especially good for my students who seem to walk in in the middle of a long-running conversation when they attack the news.)
  • Netcetera showcases the wit and personality of the Web, featuring content on innovative people, diverse places and bold ideas.  (New movies, must-see Web videos, happy birthday features with timely biographical content, and more.)

In addition to the three main types of content, the site also offers:

  • a selective search tool, SweetSearch:




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      a Google custom search which combs only those sites that have been reviewed and approved by findingDulcinea staff—more than 20,000 of the best Web sites on the Internet.

  • the Best Sites feature, derived from the Web Guides, focuses on a handful of the most essential siteson a particular topic.
  • Daily Dulcinea, which presents classroom-friendly hot topics in On This Day videos.
  • a Complete Topic Index for quick browsing access to content. 
  • Encontrando Dulcinea, which allows Spanish-speaking users to search and browse in their first language

All sections are available as RSS feeds, providing another handy example of the beauty information pushing for learners of all ages. You may also choose to follow their Tweets, which alert followers to new content.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. LibraryLady51 says:

    I have had the pleasure of attending several conferences through AASL and the SLJ Summit. I will investigate Finding Dulcinea soon. I have been using iboogie, mooter, Kartoo, and grokker with my high school students to help them narrow searches. How does FD compare in your opinion?

  2. I see that fD has lots of general as well as curriculum guides in their Education channel, and is developing an educators’ Web tool.

  3. Mark Moran says:

    Thank you for your terrific review ! I am one of those “old as dirt” people who remembers the Mining Company, and was disappointed to see it falter in its mission when it became So we set out to create a site that consistently delivers on its mission to bring users credible, and comprehensive, information about any topic. We’re thrilled to hear that you like what we’ve done so far, and the best is yet to come.

    Mark Moran
    Founder and CEO

  4. I never heard of this site before, but it seems like a very informative website. Very unique concept executed very well.

  5. Brian Kenney says:

    Great post, Joyce, I’m finding this tool fascinating.

  6. Joyce, thank you for bringing findingDulcinea to our attention. I’ve spent several hours a day on it, but unlike with most other sites, it’s not time I’ve wasted because it helps me find information faster than I could on my own. And SweetSearch is an easy way to introduce kids to the content on findingDulcinea.

  7. Brian Sullivan says:

    Let’s hope the “growing recognition that we need more than Google” continues to grow ! I find it frightening that an organization wants to control the world’s information, and that Internet users seem only so happy to let them do it. Thank you for finding findingDulcinea – what a terrific Website! I could read its news stories all day long, particularly its On This Day in History feature.

  8. PCFriar99 says:

    Joyce, thank you for all the work you put into your reviews – so many and yet thorough ! I love findingDulcinea – so well written and organized. Keep them coming.

  9. Diane Danahy says:

    Very nice find, Joyce. I directed students to the Health Web Guide for research on health conditions, and so far they have come back only with terrific results. It is a much different story when they go to Google.

  10. Laura Curley says:

    It’s nice to see that at least one Website still believes in the ascendancy of the human mind over algorithms. And it’s also heartening to see one with a well articulated mission that it actually accomplishes.

  11. Christina says:

    findingDulcinea sounds like a great way to introduce my special education students to the Internet. Thanks for the tip.

  12. Mary Hope says:

    I’m loving the Sweet Search search engine. I searched on 20 historical figures and get some great results. How refreshing that it does not index Wikipedia. My students are now using Sweet Search as well and coming up with much better sources than they used to.

  13. Kevin Maroney says:

    This is a terrific find. The neutrality of the news articles is really interesting

  14. Bob Dolan says:

    This Never Ending Search blog is so useful during these stressful times where we are seeing more people using our libraries even as our resources are being cut. Every post is a great read. Finding Dulcinea looks like a great site that
    I’ll be able to refer our patrons to again and again for a whole host of different resource needs. Thank you for making us aware of it.

  15. Susie Donoghue says:

    Thanks for this, Joyce, you unearth the best sites and tools. I found FindingDulcinea really helpful for Holocaust Remembrance Day. It spotlighted some fascinating people.

  16. Paul French says:

    It’s terrific to see a leader like you Joyce, speaking about a Google backlash. The teens I teach all want to rely entirely on Google, Wikipedia, and nothing else. It is heartening to me that there are sites like Finding Dulcinea and some of the other ones you mentioned that give me hope that my students may one day actually be able to differentiate between good and bad information on the Internet.

  17. Tammy P. says:

    Thanks for this post Joyce, although I see I discovered it some time after you wrote it. I agree with Paul above, many of my students are completely oblivious to the fact that they have no idea how to do proper internet research, thanks for passing along this gem.

  18. Kevin Faughey says:

    Thanks for this, Joyce. I checked it out today and found a nice mix of well-written stories with great reference links.

  19. Ted LeTure says:

    The On This Day feature of this site almost never fails to inform and entertain me. Such nice topic selection, and always well researched and well written.

  20. Joseph Davey says:

    I’m ashamed to say I haven’t gotten very serious about Internet research until recently, and this site explains how it works and how to find information on it as well as anything I’ve come across.

  21. Jill Mahony says:

    I love the reference guides Finding Dulcinea has created about many of the complex topics in the news today. I find they are a great place for students to begin their research.

  22. Great find ! It seems to me the search engines’ results pages are getting more cluttered, not less, as they continue to plow money into making them “better.” I think sites like Finding Dulcinea are here to stay.

  23. Mary Arent says:

    The search engine looks really helpful for students. It seems to exclude the harmful sites that invade our school’s system with viruses every day.

  24. This site is a terrific find. I’ve spent 3 hours on it today and found stuff that would have taken me all week to find on Google.

  25. Bill Toomey says:

    Joyce, I think that “backlash” against Google may become a revolution. People depend entirely too much on a few organizations to tell us what’s important. I am thankful for tools like Finding Dulcinea that effectively serve as a “check” on Google’s power.

  26. Helen Flugman says:

    This company has now come out with a new product they call Finding Education. It helps me find good web sites to include as resources in an assignment. A very useful tool to integrate the web into the classroom.

  27. Mary Beth says:

    Sweet Search is starting to become quite popular in our community. I’ve been pointing my students to it and it works well for them. I’m also starting to see links to it on a lot of other school library sites.

  28. Margaret Anderson says:

    Joyce, once again you were ahead of the crowd. The ALA’s Points of Reference blog on Booklist Online just named FindingDulcinea its Website of the Week.

  29. Patty Crinnion says:

    They’ve added a pretty neat feature to SweetSearch. Lists of top quality links for every school subject, by school level, for teachers and students. As a librarian, I love it !

  30. Robin Barron says:

    I was on a Classroom 2.0 Webinar with the founder of findingDulcinea. It was incredible, so many tools they’ve come up with, so many parts of each one. It was the best session they’ve had by far, so helpful to teachers and students.

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