February 16, 2011

NHU-PAC enhancements

Last Friday marked exactly a month since the last time the NHU-PAC needed to be fully reindexed. Indexing of changes to the NHU-PAC is happening in real time so that new records are searchable as soon as they’re added to the database. That’s the way it’s supposed to be but late last year we were having major issues with this which led us to take the NHU-PAC offline for 9 hours to upgrade our server software.

Most of the followup work related to the software upgrade has been completed so it’s time to take a look at the changes in the NHU-PAC. You may not have noticed any aside from the bottom of most pages going from this:

to this:

There are some changes affecting searching. Searches for titles, subjects, etc. that include the words not, or, or and now treat them as search words rather than Boolean operators unless the words are entirely capitalized. This change makes it considerably less frustrating to search for titles like Not without my daughter or Live free or die in the NHU-PAC. A title search for Live free or die today yielded 35 hits while Live free OR die yielded 9861 hits (most of which simply had the word die somewhere in the title or contents). You can still help narrow your results by enclosing exact phrases in quotation marks: “Live free or die” brings up 27 hits (sorry, this trick still doesn’t work in the ILL program).

Instead of NOT, you may also use a minus sign immediately before the term to be excluded. For example, Bears NOT Chicago and Bears –Chicago will yield the same results. Also, you may use parentheses to group sets of words: Kennedy AND (Ted OR Teddy OR Edward). These features allow you to do sophisticated searches from the Welcome to NHU-PAC tab but you can still build Boolean searches using the tools on the Advanced Searching tab.

You may have noticed that the Limit by: box on results pages is now five lines tall instead of one. That’s because you can now choose more than one limit to refine your search. Click on a limit and it will be highlighted, then Ctrl-Click additional limits you want to apply. Note that OR is assumed between the selected limits. That’s handy if you want to find Harry Potter books in either Spanish or French at the same time. It’s not so great if you were hoping to restrict results to, say, Large Print and Spanish--your results will include all matching large print materials as well as all matching Spanish materials, possibly more than you bargained for.

Also note that search limits are now “sticky”—they’re retained until explicitly removed during a search session. If you launch a search with a limit for Spanish materials, your next search(es) will include the same limit unless you undo it (Ctrl-Click on the chosen limit). In the Limit by: box on results pages you’ll see an asterisk next to any selected limits—or click on Refine Search to make changes to your search criteria.

Elsewhere in the NHU-PAC, the FAQ subtab under HELP! now points to a new page on this blog (still "under construction" at this writing) instead of a database on the NHU-PAC server. This change saves us a little money and, we hope, will make the Frequently Asked Questions easier to find (the topic has been added to the list at the right—and remember that all posts are searchable through that box near the top of the page just above and to the left of where it says NHAIS Notes).

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