TRAIL Search Tips & Help

Internal Links
Search Operators | Interpreting Search Results | Limitations of Search Results | Getting to "Live" Web Sites | Contact Us | List of Texas State Agencies

Related Links
Search TRAIL | About the TRAIL Service | Texas State Agency List

Search Operators

The search engine default search is a Boolean and search; the web pages found will contain all the terms in your search. When you wish to exclude a certain term, use the Boolean not operator or place a minus sign before a term. Examples:

  • Searching "dogs cats" (or "dogs and cats") yields pages with both terms
  • Searching "dogs -cats" (or "dogs not cats") yields pages with the term dogs but not cats

Interpreting Search Results

The search results page provides only one citation per web host address. The exact information you're seeking may be on a different page than the one cited in the results. Click on the more from link to see additional pages from a single web site that matched your term(s).

An alternative approach is to click on the link in the results page that is very close to your desired information, and then navigate within the archived site to other archived pages that supply the information you need.

Limitations of Search Results

There are inherent difficulties harvesting Java-based or menu-driven web sites. The harvester captures "clickable" links, so sub-pages usually are not available by clicking an archived page's drop-down menu. However, if the web site has a clickable link to the sub-page, it is highly likely that the sub-page has been harvested. The sub-page often can be found by clicking the more from link on the results page, or by returning to the TRAIL main page and searching again for key words that are applicable to the sub-page.

The harvester cannot access any web site that is protected by a "robots.txt" file that excludes crawling and indexing services. There is a low rate of incidence of "robots.txt" in the Texas government, but it does occur. A future phase of the TRAIL project will address asking agencies to make an exception to allow our harvester to capture their sites.

Other limitations that have appeared include: clicking on a menu-driven link sends the browser to the "live" site rather than to an archived page; and, occasional incidents of unharvested content due to the crawler erroneously identifying a sub-page as "out-of-scope."

Getting to "Live" Web Sites

For the present, users have direct access to the archived web pages only. To visit an agency's "live" site, from the Archive-It results page, you may copy the web address for the found page and paste it into your browser's navigation bar. In a future enhancement to the TRAIL service, users will have an option to visit the state agency's "live" web pages directly.

Contact Us

If you don't locate the resource you are seeking or have other questions, please contact the reference staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission via e-mail or at 512-463-5455.

List of Texas State Agencies

In addition to searching, TRAIL also provides basic information about state government agencies on its agency locator pages.

Page last modified: September 1, 2011