Friday, 19 September 2014

Online catalogue

A key element of the History Centre from the outset was that our on-line catalogue offered the ability to search our collections via a single search box. 

This we did when the History Centre opened in January 2010 but with mixed results - the local studies library data in particular was difficult to integrate as they used different fields and different conventions. Presenting the archive reference number and the library shelfmark in the same "Reference No" field removed the ability for this field to be sorted - but we thought that this was a far better option that keeping the data separate and having lots of empty fields on the results page.
Current advanced search page for our on-line catlaogue
We were also aware that when looking at the results many people clicked on 'view' hoping to get an image of the archive and not just further information about that item - again a compromise as we sought to keep things as simple as possible. 

We are now conducting some consultation as we look to move to a new look and feel for our online catalogue. We are keen to keep things as easy to use as we can but also aware that by offering better searching facilities our users will have a better chance of finding items relevant to their specific enquiry especially as we now have descriptions of over 330,000 items on-line and more added on a daily basis. 

We welcome comments and feedback by the end of September on the current system.

Do you find it easy to use - if so why, if not why not? 
Do you usually find the information you are looking for?  
Are there things you would like to do but can’t? 
How does it compare with other archive catalogues you use?

Simon Wilson
Senior Archivist

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