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Wednesday, March 16 • 2:15pm - 3:15pm
Single Search with SOLR or what to do when everything goes to &@#$
All libraries periodically debut new technologies: a website redesign, new content management systems, subscribing to new databases, etc. Often these new technologies are welcomed and work well, but sometimes they fail to meet expectations...and occasionally they fail in a spectacular manner.

Many libraries offer web-based search interfaces to digital resources, and current trends in search technologies are to index multiple material types in one platform and to provide a simple search box and a way for users to filter the results. The Minnesota Historical Society combined the separate search interfaces for some of our most popular records into a single, SOLR-based search platform. In the summer of 2015, the new search debuted to uniformly poor reviews from our users, and in the fall MNHS held a series of focus groups to get input on designing a new search.

In this session, we will be sharing our experiences in the aftermath of this launch, including:

Crisis management systems and styles

Creating and using tools to ameliorate searchers’ frustration and to make a bad system usable

Moving out of crisis mode: going forward with thought-out solutions and creating positive incremental changes

Setting up and gathering feedback to improve the system

Focus groups: what we learned about how users really prefer to search for historical research materials and genealogical records

Best practices: proposed data points for building web interfaces to search across data silos and heterogeneous material types.

Learning objectives:

1. Recognize technology projects with a potential for a bad debut and pre-plan for mitigating fallout.

2. Identify a set of concrete tools for handling the public side of tech crises.
3. Understand how to incorporate user input into search design as well as metadata issues to consider when incorporating vital records into a single search.


Jackie Beckey

Reference Associate, Minnesota Historical Society
avatar for Jenny McElroy

Jenny McElroy

Reference Specialist, Minnesota Historical Society

Sarah Quimby

Head of Reference, Minnesota Historical Society

Wednesday March 16, 2016 2:15pm - 3:15pm CDT
Olin-Rice 150