It's no accident. Using the search box in the top right hand corner of UNM web pages is getting good results. That's because a team from University Libraries and Information Technologies have been working since late-2010 to make UNM website searches give you the results you want.
UNM search results are powered by Google, but it's only within the past year that the team was able to customize the search to accommodate UNM's eccentricities. Once when you typed "parking" into the search box, you would get all kinds of information about parking at the Gallup Campus or everything you needed to park in Taos, while results for parking on the main campus were buried near the bottom of the page. That no longer happens because the elements which drove the search to favor the branch campuses have been altered.
Type in "parking" now and you get the website of the Parking and Alternative Transportation Systems Department at the top of your list of results. It's also easier to find people. Type in a first or last name and you have a good chance of finding the person you seek.
Rebecca Lubas, director of Cataloging & Discovery Services and assistant professor of Librarianship at UNM says metadata is another word for cataloging and librarians excel at cataloging. Lubas says the entire team took a training course from Google to understand exactly how the search function worked. Then they did a series of short videos to share that information with the hundreds of people across the university who work on individual web pages. Any webmaster can find the videos and other tools at http://search.unm.edu/seo
Anyone who wants to know more about UNM search functions can find it at http://search.unm.edu The team, led by Richard Valdez from Information Technologies and Lubas has worked so well together they are thinking about tackling secure search to allow UNM employees and students to easily find the hundreds of pages scattered throughout the UNM website that require a net ID and password to access. Currently if you are looking for password protected information you need to know where the information is linked in specific websites.
If you explore the UNM search site, you realize the committee is also targeting maps. The current tab simply leads you to a web page that links to various maps of the campus. But what if you could ask directions to the nearest computer pod or place to eat? They are beginning to think about ways to make UNM maps more interactive.
Lubas says there's a lot that can be done to make search easier on campus. You can already see some examples. If you want to know where you can park for the UNM Hospital, you can type UNM Hospital and parking into the search box, and actually get a map to the closest parking for the hospital. Sometimes the small pleasures give the greatest satisfaction.
Media contact: Karen Wentworth (505) 277-5627; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Inside UNM