Old Dominion University Libraries

STARquest II: The Internet and the World Wide Web

3a. Search Tools - Subject Directories

This type of directory is arranged in subject categories also named "subject trees." Within each subject category are links to more sub-categories. Think of these directories as huge collections of favorites very like those you would create in Internet Explorer.

This approach requires massive amounts of human maintenance to keep the system up-to-date. Remember when you search on a subject directory you are only searching the Web sites which have been gathered into the database.

Subject directories are best used when you have a general idea of a broad topic and want to narrow it or if you prefer to browse in a particular subject area. These directories are also great for beginners to learn how to search on the Web.

Subject directories to try are Yahoo!, WWW Virtual Library, or Infomine.



  • Human involvement provides a level of filtering and quality control
  • Search feature provided to search their own database not the entire Web
  • User-friendly
  • Good for browsing
  • Smaller database means more manageable hit rate
  • Database currency, size and rate of growth is limited due to the human element
  • Database is small and may not retrieve very specific searches