From the Collections: Improvements in the search functions online

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Increasing digital access to primary source research materials is a major initiative for museum and archival institutions today – and we at THS are certainly no different from many other organizations in our efforts to continuously improve our online research capabilities.

Over the past month, we’ve spent our time making several changes to our online Research Portal, including building a new page for our finding aids and making a major change to the search function in our online catalog. The first is a simple page update where we’ve moved all of our finding aids and inventories to a dedicated web page that is highlighted in the “Research” menu.


From Amanda Wick, Archives Director.

You’ll now be able to find an immediate line to the finding aids specific to some of our most utilized collections. As a researcher, you’ll be able to quickly identify a specific item from a collection that you might like us to photograph or scan.

The second change that we’ve made this month has a far greater impact on your ability to conduct comprehensive research via the web. In our database, we’ve changed the parameters for the search function within the online catalog.

Previously the search mechanism only trolled through information using the title of an asset from our catalog. It is now checking a variety of other fields for keywords, and producing a far richer set of search results.

In addition to the changes we made to the search function itself, we also adjusted how the information is displayed once results are returned. Previously, the information about the assets in our collection were displayed with fields that were not terribly descriptive about the actual content of the asset – so, a slide from one of our collections would show up in search results with the catalog number of the slide, the collection it was in, and the type of object (slide, photograph, etc.).

Today, the search results show the information differently and we’ve elected to display more descriptive information about the actual asset. When you run a search in the catalog now, it will return results that show the title of an asset, the collection in which it is housed, and a brief description of what it portrays.

This enhancement now allows researchers like yourself to quickly see if an asset that turns up in search results is actually useful for your purposes.

Try it out for yourself! Search the online catalog | Submit a research request online


Did you know? Membership dues at all levels help support the ongoing preservation and cataloging of the collections in the American Theatre Architecture Archive for researchers. Join today!

Don’t want to pay in one lump sum? Consider setting up a recurring transaction of $10 a month in our online giving portal to help preserve these materials for future generations.

(Article originally printed in Marquee™ Vol. 46, No. 1, available for digital download here.)


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