More Library Catalog Search Tips

When we converted the catalog from the old software to this new one, we found a lot of consistency issues in abbreviations (MHGS vs Midwest Historical & Genealogical Society), author names (Smith, Albert vs Smith, A.) and subject headings (marriages vs marriage records.)  This makes some of the cool features of our new system less effective.  We’re working to clean things up, but with more than 10,000 records, it’s going to take some time.  In the meantime, what you can do with the catalog depends a little on what you’re searching for.

If you do a search for something Kansas-related, such as Kansas Sedgwick County, you’ll see several ways to refine your search in the left column of the search result page – you’ll see Authors, Item Types, Locations (where in the library), Places (where in the world), and Topics.  These are called facets and work pretty much like similar columns on or other big websites with search functions.  If you click on Land Records under Topics, you’ll just see books that have been cataloged with Land Records in the subject headings.  That doesn’t mean, of course, that these are the only Sedgwick County books that mention land records; these are just the books that a) have land records as a significant topic and b) have been entered that way in the catalog.

If a set of records, say the results of a search for Ohio, haven’t yet been cleaned up, you will only see Authors, Item Types and Locations in the left column.  The search will still look at subject headings for these books, but they don’t show up in the facets yet.  If you want to see if there are any books that focus on Ohio land records, you will need to do a search for Ohio land records.

You can tell a book’s records have been cleaned up if the subject headings are in upper and lower case – our old system had a thing for subject headings in ALL CAPS!