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September 2010

Some Information About Searching on the New TPL Website

September 1, 2010 | Margot | Comments (7)

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A number of people have been commenting that they are puzzled by the results of some of their searches on the new website.  Searching is a bit different from the way it used to be in the old catalogue.  The new universal search engine performs a keyword search rather than an exact author or title search.  If you search for a title and it is available in the library, it should display at or near the top of the search results page.  If the library does not own the item you are looking for, there may be no exact match, but you will still get results that contain one or more of the words from your search. The search engine brings back results that contain your keywords and sorts them based on how closely they match what you entered. These types of results can seem irrelevant, especially if you were only interested in finding a specific title.
A straight author search (e.g. John Grisham) will result in material by or about the author in all available formats and languages, as well as blog posts, programs, and any other relevant information.  Remember that you can always use the refinements on the left hand side of the page to narrow your search.  It is a great way to quickly find the most recent books, material in large print, or material in another language.  The Advanced Search feature allows you to set limits for your search before actually performing it, including specifying author, title, or subject.

We have recently refined our search configuration in an effort to improve search results.  During our testing, this change did not affect the results of all searches, but did help with some problematic searches that have been reported to us—including items that we don’t own.  These searches are now resulting in fewer and more relevant results. 

As a further improvement, we will implement a "type-ahead' feature next year.  You are probably familiar with this because it appears on many popular search engines and retail websites.  

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As you start typing, a search box starts suggesting items and terms you can click on.  This type of improvement helps with misspelled terms and names as well as clearly identifying that we do not have a particular item. This along with other methods of customization are underway. Your feedback is crucial so if you find searches that don't seem to be getting you to the materials and information you seek please send us specific examples through Answerline or this blog.

The old catalogue is still available for those more comfortable with doing exact title or author searches, but once you get use to using the new search you will find that it has enhancements that the old catalogue doesn't provide and we're sure you'll enjoy using it.

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