information retrieval

Trouble searching the Internet?

We all use the well-known search engines such as Google, Bing, Ask Jeeves etc  to search the Internet. Today after a conversation about search engines I decided to see whether it was possible to get list(s) of  what  is available to use.

After putting in my request to Google I found a number of lists.

Here are a few, there are quite a number of others.  (for international search engines, arranged by country)

These lists  include an amazing number of search engines on a variety of topics, from the law, to jobs, to blogs, to games for example and also have metasearch engines, such as Dogpile, and Zuula  which will search up to sixteen other engines for you.
One that wasn’t included was one I used to use a couple of years ago to winkle out obscure pieces on Conductive Education. This was called Bananaslug and I was reminded about it this morning by Andrew.
It can be found at and is called a long tail search engine as it takes random words you select and uses them to find hits on a particular subject. For example, you could choose Conductive Education as your subject and add random words from one of a  number of categories listed on the site, e.g. emotions or first names for instance, to make a search.
I will have to investigate as many of these as I can and see what I can find. If you do the same, please do let me know of any items of particular interest that you consider should be included in the virtual Catalogue on

Conductive Education: do we want to save the history and knowledge?

This morning on the Today programme, BBC Radio 4, there was an item on archives and preservation of knowledge. This was prompted by the news that the poet,Wendy Pope, had sold her archive to the British Library and led to a wider discussion about preserving documents in the electronic age, the difficulties thereof due to sheer volume, and how important librarians and archivists were to the organisation and management of such collections in today’s ‘digital abundance’.
Naturally it made me think of Conductive Education and what was being done to save its history, development and practice. The National Library aimed to fufill this role as far as it was possible whilst I was Librarian, collecting centre brochures, reports, press cuttings, reports etc, but I would think maintaining the collection in this way will have been very difficult if not impossible during the past two years.
Maintaining this blog, reporting and recording events, answering enquiries is my small contribution to establishing a record, a history, the facts of what is happening in the CE world. Another resource is the virtual library, the virtual catalogue which includes items on the Internet which are available to those who want to investigate, analyse and discuss. Unfortunately one disadvantage of the Internet is the ‘disappearance’ of items due to broken links, deletion or being moved to new locations as has happened with some of the items I have found for the Virtual Catalogue, but with limited resources it is not possible to track everything down.
 I do my best.
One question you may ask is does anyone really care? Other than me, of course. If Conductive Education is to have a future surely it must have a recorded past to learn from and build on?
I would like to offer everyone the chance to present their papers, documents, writings to me for inclusion in the Repository on
or to keep with other material I am collecting here in my ‘office’.
Let’s do our best to save and preserve knowledge for those who will follow us in the years to come.

Information in newspapers is not always right, is it

I check regularly for news items to include in my monthly list and have found this one today

This reports the work of the Centre for Independence through Conductive Education as described at a Rotary Club of Lake Zurich function. It starts with an explanation of cerebral palsy and how it occurs before or during birth due to lack of oxygen; this is not my understanding. No-one really knows what causes it, lack of oxygen may be only one possibility. It is important to get facts right as wrong information in one section of an article can cast doubt on the rest of the piece.
Most  journalists and those interviewed by them, do get things right, but  perhaps everyone should check their information carefully before making such statements as that mentioned above.

Using information on the blogs

 have received an email saying how useful the virtual catalogue on the New Conductive Education Library blog is proving to be. This is very gratifying and makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Thank you, Viba.

She also asked whether I was happy for her to link the blog to a Discussion Group on Google. Naturally I was very happy to say that this was fine. Anyone can link to my blogs, copy, cut and paste the posts, as long as they do acknowledge where they have been taken from. My main aim in producing the lists etc is to help others find what is available, and be able to compare, criticise, comment on the items so listed.  Learn more about, and from, the literature Conductive Education.

So feel free to use whatever you like under the conditions mentioned, and let me know how useful it is.

New portal may still help parents find out more about Conductive Education

Two things have been sent to me today which made me think about the lack of accessible accurate information for parents on what Conductive Education is and what it could do for their child.Firstly, a discussion forum for parents had a posting asking about CE and received two very limited responses. Perhaps parents or centres would like to elaborate on these and help the mother make an informed decision.

I imagine there may be other forums with similar requests; it is difficult to keep track of them all.

Secondly, two stories in the Texas press highlight the success of Conductive Education for one child and relate the process of finding out about it and the setting up a centre by this child’s parents. This may provide publicity in Texas but that doesn’t necessarily spread out from there.

How this lack of information can be remedied is a moot question. The proposed CE website,, announced earlier this year failed to meet its launch dates in April and May, but now hopes to launch on 30 October and intends to act as a portal for all those interested in CE at all levels. See-

Maybe this will go some way to providing answers.

Who said what? One thing leads to another

A few days ago I had a request asking:
 I am looking for a quote that I thought was attributed to Peto, but now I can’t find the source that I thought it came from. The quote was something like…’Do not ask me what I can do for a child. Ask the child what he can do for himself.’

Since then there has been some blogging about this as others have made suggestions, but unfortunately it has not been possible for any of us to confirm the source either way. I feel it originated from Maria Hari but am not in a position to check this.

It led me to look at Maria Hari on conductive pedagogy in the hope I would find it there, but all I found was a substantial number of statements that are very similar:

eg. ‘The work of the conductor is simply to motivate the child to do well’. p71.

‘The child learns that he can change position. The conductor must prove it to him. The conductor gives him the chance to interact with the environment and to overcome difficulties’ p72.

every child must know that he is absolutely free to do what he wants and that he is the most essential, his skills are appreciated, his life has meaning’ p109.

 Not quite as snappy as the quote asked about, but just as good, I think.This made me realise what a goldmine the book is, it can help with explaining the philosophy and pedagogy behind Conductive Education. It does this clearly and succinctly, and all those wishing to know more should get hold of a copy.

There are copies in the National Library of Conductive Education and also copies for sale from

the National Institute of Conductive Education

At one point Andrew talked about compiling a little book of quotes from the writings of Hari which, perhaps could be looked at with Peto’s proverbs, ( as mentioned on Susie’s blog) if the source can ever be confirmed. and

Perhaps a collection of such fully referenced quotes would be useful, though of course, it must always be remembered that statements can be distorted when used out of context.

Maguire, G. and Sutton, A. ed. (2004) Maria Hari on conductive pedagogy. Birmingham: Foundation for Conductive Education.

All change!

For some time I have been concerned about the name of this blog. Things have changed since its set-up and the name ‘Library’ is no longer appropriate.

A library is a collection of organised, accessible, catalogued material and other information. While I was the Librarian and had access to Conductive Education material in the National Library of Conductive Education, and its catalogue at the National Institute of Conductive Education, ‘library’ seemed a logical name for a blog intended to promote this collection.

That situation no longer applies.

The post of Librarian was made redundant. I left taking with me what only I had learnt (in my head), my ‘knowledge’ of the literature, the history, the people etc, and now rely on this, my memory and the Internet when posting information.

I am continuing my blog on a voluntary and independent basis because I believe in the cause, I know that this cause desperately requires a service of this kind, and anyway I enjoy it.
This blog has had no connection with the Foundation for Conductive Education since March. Nor, as far as I know, does the Foundation desire such contact.

This blog is a private venture. Therefore I have decided to re-name it, Conductive Education Information, to reflect its purpose more accurately.

There will also be a change in URL, but there is no need for regular readers to change their bookmark or alert settings, as Blogger will automatically make redirection to the new Internet address.

The National Library of Conductive Education is still there, so if you have any requirements for bibliographic or other information please contact either

or myself

One year old today

It is exactly a year since I posted my first blog on 10 June 2008. Since then there have been enormous changes, financially and politically worldwide, and big changes for me and the Library. None of which could have been anticipated last June.

In starting this blog I hoped to publicise the National Library and its services easily and quickly, and encourage people to ask questions, request information and let me know of new documents, papers, websites , conferences etc. Since then there have been 4226 visits , now averaging about 100 per week and 99 postings – this is the hundredth – on a variety of topics. Not too bad for a blog in such a specialised field, and a ‘library’ to boot!

There have been a number of enquiries ( some in the past three months) all answered satisfactorily, and some interesting encouraging comments both on the blog and emailed privately.

What has changed?

The most important change for me personally has been my redundancy. The decision of the Foundation for Conductive Education to make the post of Librarian redundant three months ago ( yes, it is three months now!) which led to me leaving, resulted in a large number of emails and phone calls from old students, professionals, parents and conductors. They made me realise how important it was for people to know the Library and its services were there, even if they did not use them very often.

I always understood that the Library was not just for current users, not just there for students and clients at NICE, but was there as a foundation, a source of knowledge for the future, when Conductive Education would become of more interest academically worldwide. I still think that to achieve this it needs a professional to run it and increase its prestige internationally as well as that of the Foundation. I am sure that those who are manning the fort at the moment are doing the best they can, but their valuable time would be better spent doing what they know best, Conductive Education.

What next?

Well, I hope to continue disseminating information with news items, conference details, newsletters, more Conductive Education Classics, and items of relevance to those with interest in Conductive Education. Also I have registered to become part of Twitter. More of this later. I will do other things too and am looking at a couple of options.

As to the current meltdown in the financial and political world, all I can do is hope that Conductive Education and its supporters can survive and adapt to the new circumstances. For this people will need to work hard, be prepared for radical change, prepared to fight their corner and be prepared to stand up for the profession, verbally and in print.

In the meantime, please keep reading this and please, please, let me know what you think, send me your enquiries and be in touch. While its good to know that people are reading my postings, it will be even better to have more contact with you all.

Here’s to the next twelve months, and thanks for being there with me – Cheers!

Sharing information and experiences in Conductive Education via the Internet

I think that the internet has provided a number of ways of enabling people to to ‘talk’ to each other when miles apart and one of these is the discussion forum. Discussion Forums offer an ideal way for those working all over the world, sometimes alone and sometimes with others, to share experiences and ask for suggestions to help solve problems. There are several discussion forums now for Conductive Education and none appear to be very active, unlike the former forum on the Foundation for Conductive Education website was a few years ago. Is this because technology has moved on, blogs and sites such as Facebook, Myspace are the communication channels of choice now? Are conductors too busy, too tired at the end of the day/week? Are they communicating in a more private way? I would be very interested to know. Even so, I would like to note that the Conductive Education Community Discussion Forum has had some new responses to the question about what conductiors wear on their feet. Maybe this will encourage more to join in the discussion.

Earlier this year, Ben Foulger reported on his blog that there had been no use of the internet to announce the programme and record what had been presented at a recent CE conference in England.

As he said, this would have been very useful and of great interest to those who had been unable to attend. He asked for people to vote if they would like this to happen in the future and said he was willing to help set this up for conferences. At the end of the time allowed (which was a couple of months, I think) there were only FOUR votes (all for the motion), of which one was mine!

I know all those who work in Conductive Education are very busy and committed to it, but I hope they will try and build on these small beginnings to share the information and experiences which would benefit them all.

Do let me know what you think and of any forums you use.

Some other Discussion Forums

Please note that the new US CE portal intends to include a discussion forum on its website but has been somewhat delayed due to technical difficulties.

Where on earth do you find it all?

I have been asked how I, as a librarian, find material on Conductive Education and this is a brief response to the questions posed in the comment on my previous posting. (Maguire, 2009).Before I start it is worth noting that the Internet has changed everything, removing the previous limited options to publishers’ catalogues or journal indexes and abstracts, enabling access to all sorts of things which would have been impossible before. This is extremely useful to a small library with very limited resources and little money to access databases and journals.Conductive Education does not have much of a ‘traditional’ literature, with lots of books, journals and conference proceedings, so tracking new material down can be quite difficult. Searches have to be done on a regular basis and knowing the field and its sources is crucial to success.

Useful ways of tracking, finding and getting hold of information
Networking – New publications, whether books, journal articles, conference proceedings are usually announced somewhere and the necessary details circulated to people or institutions who might be interested, by the writers, publishers or other interested parties. If I knew people who would be attending a conference I would always ask them to collect copies of any handouts, abstracts, newsletters, publicity material for me. Unfortunately, the rise of the PowerPoint presentation has virtually killed the writing down of conference papers and much valuable information has been lost, unrecorded. I do at least though get my hands on the names and email addresses of those who have presented. Then it’s up to me to write and nag for copies of anything relevant. And nag. And Nag!
Journals each issue of those subscribed to will need to be checked as soon as it is published for relevant articles, possible references, book reviews, news etc.


Reference lists   The bibliographies/reference lists of these new or newly acquired publications can then be checked for anything not already known or held in the library. Then these have to be tracked down, and nagged for, or copies obtained in other ways.
Academic databases/indexes   Relevant examples are Medline, British education Index, ASSIA. These give abstracts or basic details of articles published. These have to be gone though carefully to find relevant materials. Previously only available in paper form, it is now possible to access them via the Internet if you have a subscription. I was lucky to be able to do this via the University of Wolverhampton’s subscription. Not now, unfortunately. Then there are the specially compiled lists that are circulated to anyone interested, like the weekly cerebral palsy research listings compiled by the Spastics centre library in Australia. They have to be gone through too for anything of relevance.
Search engines  There is an amazing number of search and meta-search engines out there on the Internet, all offering something slightly different . Google tends to be everyone’s first choice with everyone for good reasons but others can be useful too ( see my earlier posting, Maguire 2008) .
Alerts  Some search engines offer an Alerts service for items in your area of interest and you can use a number of key words and phrases e.g “Conductive Education”, “cerebral palsy”, “charities” for new entries on the Internet each the moment that they appear. Google also offers this service blogs.
Online news services  Those search engines who provide daily news e.g. Google, Yahoo, MSN may have an archive for retrospective searching too.
Google Scholar and Books   Also useful listing of items searchable by keyword. Some books are also available in full.
Book sellers/publishers   Such sellers as Amazon,, Abebooks continually update their listings and also offer items at competitive prices alongside second-hand copies. Publishers such as Blackwells, and other online catalogues can be useful too.
Other languages Searches on the internet for CE using other languages, particularly Hungarian, German, Portuguese are also very productive.
Serendipity  Quite often I’ve found things while looking for something else using any of the above means.One search engine, Bananaslug is particularly useful for this and will join your keyword with a selection of other random words and bring up very interesting results!
Enquiries  those who make contact for help with their dissertation/project/research have always been asked to present a copy of the finished work to the Library and this can then be checked for further unknown items.
CE Centre Newsletters These usually quite often contain information about local events, research projects etc which can be followed up on. Some are not available on the internet and have to be requested , even begged for! Over the years the National Library has established a considerable stock of such publications, probably a unique record of the history of the internationalisation of CE.
Academics Because there are virtually no academics working continuously in the field, personal bibliographies aren’t found on the Internet. One exception to this is Jo LeBeer, Utrecht University. (Lebeer, 2009). It would be nice to have more like this. Established fields take them for granted. Some (not all) of the academics working in CE briefly, can be very good at producing items and giving copies on request. Lena Lind (Sweden) has been particularly good at this.
Press cuttings This is a colossal task (now done mainly through Internet editions of newspapers, magazines and other media) and needs tracking via several news services on a daily basis. A knowledge of the field is particularly useful here as many items do not actually include the words Conductive Education. Knowing the name of a centre or conductor or celebrity can make the difference and cerebral palsy articles are frequently about Conductive Education and don’t mention it.

Keep on searching  When new material is published, I make a search to check around the names, places etc mentioned for other items. For example, take the new article mentioned in the previous posting. The article comes from Hawaii. I used as many of the above options as I’m able to now and searched for Conductive Education and Hawaii. I did not get very much, but enough to provide an interesting lead to follow up with a personal email enquiry. This doesn’t mean there isn’t anything more, just that nothing has been found yet. It is worth remembering that a different day can produce a different selection using the same search criteria. Most of the references appeared to be old, pre 2000, but I found an email address for the one-time CE Centre in Hawaii and have written to ask for more information. A quick look at the online catalogue of the University of Hawaii only produced one reference on Conductive Education, Cottam and Sutton (1986). Surprisingly, the article in question does not refer to this. I found no other association with Conductive Education for the two authors. Before, as librarian at NICE, I would have contacted them to let them know about the Library, ask for a copy of their work, and offer the library’s services. It is surprising how many people do not know of the Library’s existence despite the internet and networking.

Copyright  After finding new material it is important to adhere to Copyright Law before printing off from the Internet, so necessary permissions have to be requested . This can take time and occasionally no reply is forthcoming so the attempt to obtain permission needs to be formally recorded.

Passing this on  A newsletter was circulated to staff at NICE every six weeks or so listing the fruits of such searches. I hope to continue with these on this blog and posted the first one recently (Maguire, 2009b).

Cataloguing etc   Finally, – how do I remember things – well, I’ve been lucky to have a good memory all my life and working with the literature every day made remembering things relatively easy, but I’m sure that, as there is so much now, I have forgotten things too. That is what libraries have catalogues for. The classifying, cataloguing and preparation of items for users are the next stages and this systematic organisation of the library’s contents helps to make the items easily accessible, if not always remembered. Great care needs to be taken choosing the appropriate keywords and classification for each item and this part of library management would make a blog all of its own!

Cottam, P. and Sutton, A., ed. (1986) Conductive Education: a system for overcoming motor disorder. London: Croom Helm.

Lebeer, J. (2009) Academic bibliography.
Maguire, G. (2008) What does a librarian do?

Maguire, G. (2009) We seek it here, we seek it there

Maguire,G. (2009b) News on the Internet no.1.