3 under-used DB/TextWorks functions that you might find useful

by Kathy Bryce Tuesday, November 13, 2018 9:28 AM

A recent project has reminded me that many clients are not aware of the power of these three functions that have been available in DB/TextWorks for years, and which can potentially streamline and speed up your workflow.

The first is Menu Screens.  Many clients have a menu screen that loads up when they open DB/TextWorks but usually the ones we see are either the default from the old Inmagic Library Module, or rudimentary boxes linking to their databases. However they can be so much more useful! Here is an example from a recent project.

CLGA menu

A menu screen is super easy to set up and we’ll be posting a detailed guide here in our blog soon.

However first we need to discuss the other two functions, as they can be used separately or in conjunction with your menu screen.

The second function is Sets. Whenever you do a search you can choose to Save the Set from the top toolbar. Sets are a great way of providing quick access to a search with several parameters to save you from entering them each time using the query screen. So for example, find all records with a Review date in the next 30 days; or find digital image records that have been entered but not checked yet; or find all books that are not on permanent loan and that have been out for more than 60 days. You can use the @date variable in the search strategy without needing to actually input an actual date each time. Never used the @date function? It can be very handy especially when combined as in @date-7:@date which retrieves all dates within the past week.   A Sets box can be added to your query screen to give you quick access to running these searches or they can be embedded in your menu screen.

The third function is Record Skeletons. You may have a student or volunteer adding records for reports in particular series; or images in a photographic collection; or documents in a fonds. You can create a record skeleton to prepopulate the edit screen with publication or descriptive data that is common to all these new records. You can find Skeletons under the Records menu. Note that once you select a skeleton to use, it will be the default until you re-set to none, or choose a different one.

In the menu screen example above, every database has a link to the search screen plus a link straight in to a new record edit screen. If your database has several edit screens these can be specified on the menu screen too, as well as specifying a skeleton appropriate for these new records. It may not seem like much, but this can save a couple of extra clicks and let you get straight to work. This screen also has Sets specified to prepopulate the query screen with the value for a particular collection. So easy to set up and a great way to ensure people can search quickly and effectively.

Check out more tips and tricks for getting the most out of DB/TextWorks in our blog archive:

We are always available to help you with updates to your databases. No project is too small!

Snazzy up your DB/TextWorks databases!

by Kathy Bryce Wednesday, July 04, 2018 10:58 AM

DB/TextWorks has been around since the late 1990’s and we sometimes come across clients with databases that were developed almost that long ago!  Two recent projects we are working on involve rationalizing older databases to modern standards.   It’s amazing how old, ugly, inefficient interfaces can be spruced up through the use of one of our kits for libraries, archives and museums.  We use these as a starting point, and after updating field names to be as descriptive as possible, we import our query screens, report and edit forms and adjust these to show the clients fields.  If you have report designs you like, you can do this too!  Under Maintain > Manage Textbase Elements you can import and export forms from one database to another.  We like to color code our databases and it’s possible to open the exported forms in Notepad or other text editor and carefully edit to replace background colors. Archives_Accessions

Inevitably requirements change over the years, so we help clients review how fields are being used, and suggest adding or deleting fields to better handle their needs.  We also make sure to add automatic number and date fields, appropriate validation and substitution lists and work with clients to clean up their data by batch modifying or updating values through the validation lists. After so many years working with DB/TextWorks we have a lot of tricks up our sleeves, and often export data, adjust it in other software and re-import to split or combine fields.

If you need assistance with your databases, please check out some of our past blog posts that provide various suggestions for improvements.  Note that some of these reference older versions of DB/TextWorks so the location of functions may not be identical.

Spring Cleanup series:

Give your databases a new lease on life and contact us for a quote to help you love them again!

Addition of digitized newspapers to the Arnprior Archives’ search interface

by Kathy Bryce Friday, June 22, 2018 8:54 AM

Andornot has recently completed work for the Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives to add the newly digitized versions of their newspapers up to 1937 to their searchable collections. The majority of issues are from the Arnprior Chronicle starting in 1885.  We also created a Finding Aid allowing researchers to see what issues are available for each of the 16 newspapers with the ability to browse each individually. 

Funding for this project was provided by the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, and will be a wonderful new option for genealogical research as well as providing a window into the coverage of historical events. Individual names can be searched, and search words or parts of words are highlighted on the newspaper pages, as in the screenshot below:

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A search on a general term such as “sawmill” pulls results from several data sources and allows users to easily narrow down their results.

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As well as providing new search capabilities for this important set of documents, this initiative removes the need to consult the now very fragile originals.

The digitization itself was handled by a local vendor and Andornot scripted the OCR’ing to create a searchable layer in the PDF’s.  When funding permits, the aim is to enhance the search option further by matching up the newspaper issues with an index to births, marriages and deaths created by the Archives. 

If you are considering a similar digitization project, or have databases or other material that you would like to make searchable, contact us for a chat to discuss options!

Don’t overlook the obvious. How to help researchers find your collections.

by Kathy Bryce Monday, March 26, 2018 4:28 PM

Reams of websites and consultants offer search engine optimization (SEO) advice and services, to help people find your content and information.  However we’ve noticed that many of our clients are missing an obvious, no cost source of referral links that would help researchers find their sites.  Have you Googled your organization or the major subjects or people that are included in your collections?  Odds on Wikipedia will often be the first source listed in Google search results for people or place names. It therefore makes sense to make sure that your content and collections are findable through Wikipedia.    Don’t neglect this opportunity to promote your material to researchers who may be unaware of your existence, and to contribute back to the Wikipedia community.

As outlined below, Wikipedia is strictly non-commercial so we cannot add content for you.

“Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project supported by the Wikimedia Foundation and based on a model of openly editable content. Wikipedia is written collaboratively by largely anonymous volunteers who write without pay. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles, except in limited cases where editing is restricted to prevent disruption or vandalism. Users can contribute anonymously, under a pseudonym, or, if they choose to, with their real identity.”

We recommend you read the Guide to Contributing first before you get started.

  • Determine if there are any links from Wikipedia to your website. Go to https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:LinkSearch&target= and enter the URL of your site.
  • Check to see if your parent organization has a page. Maybe a link to your site or more information on the scope of your collection on their page would be adequate, and they can be asked to add this link for you.
  • Consider adding a link on existing Wikipedia entries for significant people, organizations or places that are well represented in your collection, and are therefore a useful source of information for researchers. If your collections management system offers permalinks, you can add the URL to a fonds level descriptive record or finding aid under either the External links or References section. This requires only minimal knowledge of the formatting in the wiki markup language.
  • Add a new page if nothing exists on a person or topic already.  You will need to check first that it meets the Wikipedia tests for notability, i.e. how the editors decide whether a given topic warrants its own article, and follow the content protocols and editing guidelines

To add more detailed content, check out the Wikipedia tutorial or watch their YouTube videos. There is also a useful video from the Archives Association of Ontario created specifically as an overview of the ways in which archivists can use Wikipedia to link to their online resources.  The page List of Archives in Canada shows how many of these archives do not yet have a specific entry. Check out the page for the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives for a good example to look at for possible content ideas.

Please contact us if you would like help with more general tips to help users find your content.

Tags: Archives

Surveyor Geotagging Tool from the New York Public Library

by Kathy Bryce Monday, July 24, 2017 9:42 AM

Determining the exact location of historical photos is always a challenge, but Surveyor, a new open source tool just released by the New York Public Library (NYPL) offers a neat crowdsourcing option.  It was developed to help address the problem of photos with very general titles, or only a street name or neighbourhood, some of which may no longer exist.

The NYPL has uploaded a set of photos and users can click through and move the map until the marker is in the correct location. There is an optional step of noting the direction and angle of the view of the image.

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This project is part of the New York City Space/Time Directory to create open source tools to help other cities, libraries and individuals to map and explore history.

Let us know if you’d be interested in adding a crowdsourcing project like this to your site. Crowdsourcing is a great way to encourage community involvement as well as enhancing the information about items in your collection. Contact Andornot to discuss possibilities!

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