Saturday, October 08, 2005

Ancestry Library Edition

I'm not sure exactly when it happened here, but Ancestry Library Edition (ALE) has replaced AncestryPlus (AP) as an in-library database. It must have been in the last few weeks. ALE's layout is similar to AP, but I found the usability to be slightly more difficult. Not difficult as in hard to use, but rather that ALE seemed to take longer to get to the data because of the way results were returned. If I searched for a marriage in St. Louis using AP, I knew that the results were only going to show St. Louis and Missouri marriages. With ALE, I get a list of hits that apparently ignores the location and shows me every sub-database that the names show up in. That's great if I had no clue where I was looking, but I do and don't think I should have to scroll through page after page of database hits until finding the relevant ones. This used to work in the past, why doesn't it now?

ALE has another problem that needs to be fixed: the way results are ranked. Actually, this issue goes back to the commercial version of Ancestry and it's former limited counterpart, AP. In many cases I just do not understand how those results are being ranked. It makes no sense to have to go to a second or third page of results to find entries more relevant to my search than some of the preceeding entries.

This search flaw is also obvious in the "My Ancestry" service that Ancestry offers. After entering several names, dates and locations, Ancestry is supposed to periodically send search results by email. Some of the search results are accurate. However, there are also results that clearly ignore the parameters of my search. These emails are now almost comical. I have not unsubscribed, though. I suppose I'm like everyone else that is willing to put up with the nonsense, hoping one day something new and useful might show up. At least it's free.

There is good news, though. Ancestry Library Edition includes Ancestry's Immigration Collection. I may not have raved about this online before, but I love this database. Anything that makes it unneccessary to guess how a surname was spelled in "Germans to America" or at is a winner in my book. AncestryPlus offered some of Immigration Collection, but ALE now has the New York arrivals with scans of the passenger lists. Fantastic.

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