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New Site Search Engine Allows Easier, More Efficient Navigation of MedlinePlus and NLM Web Site

On Thursday, October 11, the National Library of Medicine released a new search engine for MedlinePlus, MedlinePlus en español and the NLM Library Web site. NLM has made this change to better meet the expectations and preferences of the millions of people who use NLM Web sites each month.

After extensive research, NLM selected search engine software from the Pittsburgh-based company Vivisimo. Vivisimo is also the current search solution for the www.usa.gov site (formerly FirstGov), which contains online information from the entire spectrum of U.S. government agencies.

The new search results feature enhanced relevance rankings and boldface search words in context, to help users select the best Web documents for their queries. An integrated spell checker suggests alternative search terms and spelling corrections.

The new search engine also expands queries using synonyms specific to the sites and medical synonyms from the NLM Unified Medical Language System (UMLS).

The default display for search results is a comprehensive list of "All Results," from all areas of the site. Users can also focus their search on one part of the site by navigating to individual collections of results, such as "Drugs and Supplements," "Medical Encyclopedia," "Online Exhibits" and "NLM Web Archives."

For searches that retrieve one of the 700+ English-language health topics on MedlinePlus, the relevant topic will be spotlighted at the top of the screen with an image, an excerpt of the health topic summary and links to the topic, as shown below:

Lung Diseases spotlight example

Searches on the Library Web site for an NLM product or service will highlight the relevant results in the "NLM Selected Resources" box at the top of the results:

Interlibrary Loan Selected Resources example

The Library plans to implement the Vivisimo search engine on NIHSeniorHealth, MedlinePlus Go Local, and other sites in the future.

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