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Abstract

The article reports the results of a study that explored users' preference for search engines in relation to other information sources. The study used qualitative and quantitative methods to examine participants' information seeking with and without access to search engines. The study identified search engine features that users find valuable, such as perception of convenience, independence and privacy, as well as specific functionality (keyword searching, autocomplete feature). The study found that inability to use search engines caused an increase in negative emotions, especially among seekers with limited information horizons; led to the decrease in use of other electronic channels and increased inquiries to other individuals and the use of print sources. Our findings suggest that seekers operate within digital and traditional information fields and do not easily switch between the fields without major disruption to their habitual pattern. The discussion about positive and negative effects of search engine preference is included.