Thursday, August 12, 2010

Searching NZETC

If anyone knows the best way of getting to the right data on the NZETC site, please let me know. Google search tends to take me straight to it but going anywhere else on the site is a problem.

To demonstrate what happens, I found the wonderful resource New Zealand Cyclopedia published in six volumes between 1897 and 1908 by the Cyclopedia Company Ltd and put online last year.

My person of interest, John Henson, is in it. However, having the resource on the screen on the left and using the search engine on the right, Henson doesn't appear. What does appear is another list of choices.

The choices highlight the publications online in which the name appears and the Cyclopedia is in the list. Ok, so I click on this publication and up pops another few bits of odd text. So, I'm no closer to seeing the actual entry yet. This could be one of those merry-go-rounds.

We live in an 'instant' society now and at this point I'm trying not to act like a spoilt brat. But wait, the last time I clicked on the item on the list, I used the top link which brought me to the odd text which merely tells me a more about the publication. Using the next link down (Farmers, Old Settlers), takes me to the actual document. From there I scroll down to find the entry. I suppose I could just just Control-F to let the browser take me down as well.

So John, I found you. It still beats going to the library for it I suppose, but the exercise might be good for me. My stress level is a bit high at the moment after negotiating this convoluted site. What makes it worse, is that this site has such good quality data in it and such a lot of it that I have to use it. Maybe one day, a more ordinary brain might re-organize it, someone who doesn't belong to Mensa.


  1. Hi Lyn,
    Great to see you finding our site useful, if a little frustrating. We've tried to make it easy to search, but with a such a large and varied collection, have found that this needs continuing refinement.

    I just tried your search, looking for "John Henson" and I got two results, one of which is an enormous page listing lots of farmers (including Henson), but as you say requires much scrolling or the use of CTRL-F to find him.

    However, the other result was a link to a picture of John Henson -- if you click on this link link you get the photo, and if you want to read the text associated with the photo, there is a link near the top, "Figure in Context", which takes you straight to the entry for Henson. Although this has worked well for us, maybe it's a little intuitive, as it requires clicking through two pages. We'll put our hats on and try to determine a way to improve the searching.

    In the meantime you and your colleagues might like to know of another way into the collection when searching for people, which is

    If you visit this page, there is a search box near the top right -- searching for "John Henson" ends up with one result, which is the person you're after I believe. Clicking on the NZETC url then takes you to the page for this person, which collates all the information we have about this person, including a link directly to his entry in the Cyclopedia.

    We don't normally direct people to this tool, as it only shows information that we have verified (i.e. it doesn't do a simple string search across the whole collection, so may miss some information that the search wouldn't).

    Hopefully this is of help -- I'd be interested if you have any further feedback or suggestions.



  2. Thanks for the tips Jason, that did the trick, I'm sure I'll find what you said very useful.