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Frequently Asked Questions about Searching ALA Connect

  1. Why did my search for an ALA member come up with no results?
    There are a couple of reasons there may be no listing for someone you know is an ALA member. The first is that when you do a general search, results for members don’t automatically display. You have to click on the “Member search” tab to view results for a member search. So make sure you look at that tab to see if there are any results.

    When you’re searching for a member, Connect searches first names, last names, usernames, and places of employment. If you typed in a full name and there were no results, try using the most unique part of the person’s name on its own.

    If you’re looking in the "members search" tab and there are still no results, the problem may be that the person you’re looking for has indicated in her profile that she does not want to be included in ALA Connect. Those members who have checked that preference cannot log in to Connect and are not included in the member search. Unfortunately, you’ll have to find a different way to contact that person.

  2. What gets searched when I type something in the search box?
    When you type a term in the search box, the software searches pretty much everything about a piece of content – the title, body, category, etc. So if you’re searching for a specific group, you’re actually better off searching in the “Browse ALA Connect" area where you can narrow your search to just titles of groups and communities. If you type something like “council” there, you’ll get all of the ALA groups that have that word in the title, whereas if you type that term in the general search box, you’ll get any piece of content that uses that word (posts, online documents, discussions, etc.).

    If you’re searching for a member, however, typing a person’s name in the search box will search for that word as first name, last name, username, and organization. However, there’s a problem right now that occurs when you search for a member using the general search box at the top of each page. When you see the search results (whether there’s one, none, or many), you have to click on the “Member search” tab to see the results for users. We know this is a problem, and we’ll be fixing this when we upgrade our software later this year.

    If you know you want to search for a member, you’re probably better off going directly to the member search box, as that will narrow your results set.

  3. Can I limit my search by type of content (e.g., post, online document, discussion, etc.)?
    You can’t limit a sitewide search to a particular type of content, but you can search an individual group or community that way. To do this, go to the group’s home page and in the right-hand sidebar, click on the type of tool you want to search.

    You’ll be taken to a page where you'll see the latest content of that type, but there will also be a search box that lets you narrow your results to just that type.

    You can also use the dropdown menu to the right of the search box to narrow your results to a different type of content within that same group.

  4. Can users who are not part of my closed group search for protected content from my group?
    No. Your group’s members can search all of your public and protected content, but the public and other ALA members can only search any public information your group has posted.


  5. Can public users search protected content from “closed” groups?
    No, public users can only search through public content, so anything your group has not made public cannot be searched or viewed by the public or other ALA members.


  6. What kinds of improvements are you planning for the search engine?
    Connect’s search engine does okay for basic searching, but it doesn’t do many of the things we want it to do. For example, it doesn’t tell you how many search results there are total, it doesn’t tell you how many results there are for different types of searches (number of posts, number of groups, number of members), etc.

    The software that Connect runs on is called Drupal, and we plan to upgrade to the latest version during later in 2009. Once we do that, we can upgrade and enhance the search engine, so this functionality will improve in time. Our hope is to customize the search results to make them more useful and offer more options for narrowing your search.

    In the meantime, if you’re trying to find something specific, and you’re not having much luck, please contact us and we’ll help.

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