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Building Wellcome Collection’s new unified catalogue search

One of the key features of the new Wellcome Collection website is our unified collections search.

A search box labelled “Search the catalogue” with two tabs: “Library catalogue” and “Images”. To the right is a green button labelled “Search”. The search is for “suez canal” and shows two search results.

On the old Wellcome Library and Wellcome Images websites, we had different search tools for different types of records. Each tool would present a different view of the data, and you had to work out which tool would find the information you needed.

We had one tool that would search all our catalogues, but it lost a lot of the structure from the underlying data. We had other tools that would preserve the structure and detail, but only included a subset of the catalogue. Yet another tool would search our image collections. Our new search no longer forces you to choose: a single search box searches everything, and with all the detail and functionality our users expect.

This was a significant technical challenge, with input from teams across Wellcome Collection. If you’d like to learn more, I wrote an article for our development blog that explains how it was built.