Category Archives: Library

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 amazon.com 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!

New Online Library Catalog

MHGS has switched to a new library catalog that offers online access for everyone. To search the catalog, select the Library option in the left side menu, and follow the link to Search our library catalog.

When you arrive at the catalog (which in the library world is called an OPAC, for Online Public Access Catalog), you will see a search box at the top and a set of login boxes at the right. We haven’t set up membership logins yet, so ignore that part. You don’t need to log in to search the catalog.

The search box at the top of the main page, and most other pages, is a keyword search, which means that the catalog will look for your search words in the title, author and subject headings of each entry. Most of the time, that’s really all you need. There are a few times when you might need more control, in which case the Advanced Search menu gives you a lot more precision. You might use this if you’re looking for Smith County and don’t want to wade through all the books authored by Smiths; you could use the Advanced Search menu to look for Smith in titles and subjects but not authors. You don’t need to worry about capitalization.

Remember to run searches for your surnames of interest as well as geographic locations, but not all in one search. To see if we might have relevant items for your Jacksons in Reno County, KS, you should run one search for Jackson, which would find books about the Jackson family, some of which might mention Reno County, and another search for Kansas Reno County which would find books about marriage records or cemeteries in Reno County that might mention Jacksons. If you search for Jackson Kansas Reno County, you’re asking to see just the books in which the Jacksons and Reno County are both featured prominently enough to be in the title or subject headings – and while we do have some books like that, they’re in the minority.

Book Sale in September!

It’s time for a book sale!

  • Saturday, September 13, 9-4
  • Tuesday, September 16, 9-4
  • Saturday, September 20, 9-4

Lots of genealogy and history books and magazines.  Many other books — fiction, cookbooks, non-fiction.  Great prices!  The money raised will help pay to repair the library windows.

If you have books you’d like to contribute to the sale, please drop them off at the library.  Anything we don’t sell, we’ll donate to the Wichita Public Library Friends of the Library for their sales.