What’s with the ALA website … now?

Are you clicking through a reference to an ALA web document, but getting that dreaded “404″ message? Despite what the error message says, it’s not our “new” website–look for that this summer. It’s still our old website, but on a different content management system (CMS). During the week of March 17th, we finished moving the last 10-15,000 pages from the old CMS to a new one, leaving behind just a few functions that are heavily programmed to work with other systems.

As with any large scale conversion, there remain a few problems … and probably with just the page you were looking for, right?

Here are a few tips for self-help:

1. Check the URL you are using, especially if it’s a bookmark. If it ends in .htm rather than .cfm, you may be pointing to the old page. The old pages are supposed to be redirected to the new ones, but the paths are not always perfect.

2. Try going to www.ala.org, refreshing your page a couple of times, then navigating to the page you’re looking for. For example, if you want the ALCTS Duplicates Exchange Union, go to “Our Association”, then “Divisions” then “ALCTS” where you’ll find the link under “Resources” in the right navigation column. Or, use the shortcuts to the units found at the page created by ALA’s Reference Specialist, Val Hawkins.

3. Try using the search within the ALA website (the search box at the right end of the blue bars, or the search box on the error page). Pick the result with the .cfm in it … or try the cached version of the .htm page if you just need to check some information. If you want to cite the page, don’t use the .htm page, but wait until you locate the .cfm version so as not to pass on the obsolete reference.

4. Try an Internet search limiting results to the ALA website, e.g., < “FBI in your library” site:ala.org > and, again, pick the result that matches and also has the .cfm in it.

If all else fails, e-mail the ALA Library. We’ll find the page, or connect you to the unit responsible for the page.

The frequency of problems is already dropping off as the new pages are picked up with the various search engines, as we fix the reported problems, and as we run various diagnostics to find the others. With a site with well over 50,000 pages, though, there is bound to be one page, somewhere–and just the one someone needs, of course–that isn’t right.

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