Information is everywhere. We encounter it in our everyday lives in the form of E-mail, newspapers, television, the Web, and even in conversations with each other. Information is hidden in a variety of media: text, images, sounds, videos. While casual information consumers can simply enjoy its abundance and appreciate the existence of search engines that can help them find what they want, information professionals are responsible for building the underlying technology that search engines use. Building a search engine involves a lot more than indexing some documents -- information retrieval is the study of the interaction between users and large information environments. It covers concepts such as information need, documents and queries, indexing and searching, retrieval evaluation, multimedia and hypertext search, Web search, as well as bibliographical databases. In this course, students go over some classic concepts of information retrieval and then quickly jump to the current state of the art in the field, where crawlers, spiders, and hard-of-hearing personal butlers roam.