Refresh for the Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives website and collections search.

by Kathy Bryce Thursday, December 08, 2016 1:36 PM

The Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives (AMBA) is a small community archive outside Ottawa run by a part time archivist, a management board and volunteers.  In 2015 they were faced with several challenges. Their website was very dated looking and over the years the template had not been consistently applied resulting in different menu links and layouts from page to page. Changes with their software vendor meant their interface to search the collections was being hosted in England, and they had no statistics on usage.  It was definitely time for a refresh! They applied for and received a grant from the Documentary Heritage Communities Program (DHCP) funded by Library and Archives Canada (LAC).  Andornot worked with AMBA to scope out and provide a detailed proposal that was submitted with their application.

This was an extensive project that vastly improved the functionality offered to both AMBA on the administrative side, and to the public and researchers through the web. “We are extremely pleased to be able to offer a fresh, new search interface to our researchers. The team at Andornot was able to provide advice and expertise over the planning and development stages to help completely redefine our web presence”. AMBA

2016-03-30_14-16-31   AMBA_Search

Before and after screenshots.

Andornot setup a new website hosted on Andornot servers with a content management system using the open source Umbracosoftware.  A simple new and responsive template was applied that coordinated with the colors of the AMBA logo, and the pages were adjusted to fit the new site navigation.  AMBA can now easily update content on any page themselves, thus allowing them to now regularly add updates for events and current news.

AMBA were using an old version of Inmagic DB/TextWorks.  The software was upgraded to the current version, and descriptions data converted to the latest Andornot Archives Starter Kit. This includes a Research Requests database which AMBA volunteers are using to input details of enquiries received and to better track statistics.

The major upgrade was the creation of a single search capability using the Andornot Discovery Interface (AnDI) covering not only the AMBA archival descriptions but also a large collection of digitized bylaws, PDF’s of virtual exhibits and newspaper columns from a local historian.   The bylaws had already been digitized but were not accessible to researchers.  Fortunately the PDF files had been consistently named, and Andornot was able to extract the bylaw title, number and data from the filename to populate the metadata for each automatically thus saving valuable staff time.  A manual process is now almost complete to rename a small set of the 4,000 files that had typos or other issues. 

As with any project involving thousands of records and images there are always some issues, and we have recently completed adjusting the system to account for the many previously digitized image files which include non web safe characters such as &’s, apostrophes and other punctuation.  For clients embarking on any new digitization project we have guidelines for naming and formatting conventions. The Archives reported that they are “very pleased that the process to load the images has been greatly simplified, as Andornot automatically resizes and watermarks the images” so multiple versions are no longer required.

Many of the early Town of Arnprior bylaws date from the mid 1900’s and are handwritten.  However all the bylaws from 1975 on were run through an OCR process and are now full text searchable, though sometimes the original digitization was of poor quality.   Once a Bylaw or other PDF is retrieved, a snippet of the text is displayed with the search term shown in context.  The user can click to view the PDF which displays the pages with hits highlighted, or can click to download the document.

The new AnDI search interface provides researchers with excellent access to a wealth of historical information available through the Archves, and allows users to create a list of selected records and to share photos on Facebook or Pinterest.  Archives staff are delighted that “the new interface makes it easier for researchers to conduct searches and explore the featured virtual exhibits and resources sections of the website.”

AMBA is hoping to receive more funding in the future to continue to add more digitized documents.  Please contact Andornot if you’d like to discuss how we can help you refresh your site and search capabilities!

Introducing the Andornot Professional Development Grant

by Jonathan Jacobsen Tuesday, November 08, 2016 3:38 PM

Andornot strongly believes in the value of attending conferences to foster professional development. We attend events across Canada and the United States all year long to learn about new trends and technologies, meet with clients, and share our expertise with like-minded folks.

We are delighted to be introducing a new, annual grant to help you attend a conference or event that Andornot also exhibits at or attends, as part of your ongoing professional development activities.

One grant of up to $1,000 is available next year, with an application deadline of January 31st, 2017. The funds can be used for registration or travel related expenses. We hope that this grant will provide an opportunity for someone without access to funds from their organization to network and enrich their knowledge.

Read more and apply online here.

Be sure to check out our list of all the conferences and events we’re planning to attend in 2017 as well as our new list of other grants and funding options that could help you with project to improve your collections.

Tags: events | funding

Have You Tried Andornot's Boutique Web Application Hosting?

by Jonathan Jacobsen Sunday, November 06, 2016 9:27 AM

Do you know where your web applications are hosted? In a cloud in an unknown location? Is it difficult to obtain support for your application from your in-house IT group? Are your servers slow or due for replacement? Why not let Andornot help by having us host your data and applications.

Andornot has managed our own hosting environment since 1998 and offers a professional hosting service to clients for all web applications, such as: 

We can host almost any web application for you!

Unlike larger hosting or cloud providers, Andornot takes pride in offering a smaller, "boutique" hosting program for our clients. We know each of you personally, as well as your data and applications. When you contact us with a question, you know who you’re speaking with, we know you, and we get started immediately on solving problems.

Our hosting program is priced to compete with the in-house costs of provisioning and managing your own dedicated server. Support time is included in every hosting package and we respond promptly to all hosted clients with inquiries or problems.

We manage our own, secure hosting environment, on servers located at a Cogeco PEER1 facility in Canada, with 24/7 remote monitoring and backups. We’d be delighted to welcome you and your applications to our hosting service.

New Version of Omeka Now in Beta Release

by Jonathan Jacobsen Thursday, November 03, 2016 2:19 PM

We're excited to see the new version of the Omeka CMS / virtual exhibit / digital collection system now available for beta testing.

Omeka is a free, open-source content management system (CMS) for online digital collections. With Omeka, you can quickly build a searchable repository of archival, artifact or other records and assemble them into virtual exhibits to showcase your holdings.

Most content management systems are designed to manage a single website with a hierarchy of pages, in which are placed text and other media. In contrast, Omeka is based around items (e.g. historic documents, photographs, audio or video recordings, etc.) which can be arranged into collections and most importantly, exhibits – pages of items.

Over time, the same item, entered only once, can be re-used in multiple exhibits.

An easy-to-use web interface provides site adminstrators with access to all the important back-end features: configuring the site appearance and navigation, uploading items (individually or in batches, such as from a database export), changing themes, and creating information pages as well as exhibits.

Omeka's features puts content management and virtual exhibit building in your hands, with no technical support needed to launch new exhibits.

The new version, known as Omeka S, includes features to take advantage of linked open data, and to manage multiple sites within a single Omeka installation.

Andornot has partnered with a few clients on Omeka projects, such as The Storebox.

You can learn more about Omeka at http://www.andornot.com/products/omeka-content-management-system.aspx or read more about Omeka S specifically at http://omeka.org/blog/2016/11/02/happy-beta-release-day-omeka-s/. See also the Omeka development roadmap at https://omeka.org/about/roadmap/ then contact Andornot to discuss using Omeka to manage your collections or to create virtual exhibits.

Tags: Omeka

Explore Heritage Resources with a Map Interface

by Jonathan Jacobsen Monday, October 31, 2016 11:31 AM

Maps are a wonderful way to explore a collection that has a geographic aspect. Zooming, panning and clicking pins are a fun and interactive means for users to discover resources, as well as to see the spatial relationship between them. 

Some example uses for a map interface are to plot items such as:

  • Photographs taken around the world.
  • Landmarks and historic places or streets.
  • Public art on city streets.
  • Artifacts found or manufactured in various locations.

Over the years, Andornot has added geographic features to many projects, ranging from very simple links to Google maps showing a single point, to dynamic applications that plot multiple records on a single map, scaling the map up and down as new resources are added to the underlying database.

Andornot's map interfaces can be added to our Andornot Discovery Interface as well as used with Inmagic WebPublisher PRO and our Andornot Starter Kit.

The examples below are intended to give you ideas for adding a map interface to your collection, ranging from full featured dynamic interfaces down to very simple links to Google Street Views.

Dynamic Map Interface

The Ontario Jewish Archives' Jewish Landmarks of Ontario is an excellent example of a dynamic map interface. Pins are drawn on an open source map based on the latitude and longitude in records in the underlying database.

The map automatically zooms out to encompass all the available pins, but users can easily zoom in to an area of particular interest, with the pins rearranging to show as many as can fit on the screen.

Any pin can be clicked to bring up more details about the location.

Using filters at the top of the interface, the range of pins shown can be limited by time period and category.

This particular map interface has the Andornot Discovery Interface behind it, for full-featured textual searching as well as geographic browsing.

Static Image Map

Not every organization has the budget for the dynamic map interface above, but can still add a geographic search option using static image maps. In web development, an image map is any image with coordinates applied to it. 

For example, in these maps of the City of Richmond, coordinates allow users to click on current and historic planning areas, as well as legal lot descriptions, to view associated records, which are themselves maps (yes, a map to search for a map!).

The Heritage Burnaby Charting Change Atlas is another example of static maps with overlaid data.

These static maps are relatively quick and simply to create, but do have the disadvantage of not scaling up or down in size for mobile devices. And of course, they don't show results on map, only the overall geographic area, so they don't give users a sense of how records are arranged geographically. But still, with minimal effort, they add a new starting point to any search.

Simple Map or Street View Link

Our last example shows a link in a single search result, for a building, to its location in a Google map. This doesn't help a user to search geographically, but can at least direct them to a physical place once they find something of interest. This could be combined with either of the above map interface ideas to provide more than one geographic feature.

GIS Systems, HistoryPin and More

If your organization has an existing GIS system, especially one made publicly available as is the case in many municipalities, you might be able to layer your cultural collections into that system. People can use all the features of the existing GIS system to search and browse your region, with the choice to enable a cultural layer showing information about artifacts, photos, buildings, etc. in your historic collections.

Another option to explore is to add content to web services that already have a mapping component, such as HistoryPin.

Most of the above ideas are based on your records having latitude and longitude information in them. It's not too hard to add this, based on place names. Andornot can help to "geocode" your data so it's ready for any of these map interface ideas.

As you can see with the above examples, there's a mapping option available for every budget and need, and for different types of collections.

Contact us to discuss giving a fun, interactive new face to any of your collections.

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