Is it time to rejuvenate the search option for your collections? The Anglican Church of Canada Archives launches a new search portal to provide better access to a wider selection of records of national significance.

by Jonathan Jacobsen Monday, August 14, 2017 8:45 AM

The Archives of the Anglican Church of Canada has provided web search access to some of their collections for many years, but it was time for a refresh to keep up with current expectations. Situations like theirs are all too common, with issues such as:

  • each of several databases had to be searched separately, one at a time;
  • the separate search interfaces were dated, with a restrictive searching syntax;
  • the graphic design no longer matched the main website;
  • the layout was not responsive for viewing on tablets or phones;
  • there was a desire to put up additional content; and
  • the server that was home to all the software and data was due for replacement as both the hardware and operating system were aged. 

Undertaking these updates was a somewhat daunting prospect for the archives staff, with little time or experience to work on the necessary changes. However, Andornot has worked with the Anglican Church for many years, and over several months developed a plan for the updates that fit with both Archives and IT staff requirements. The result is a modern, functional new single search portal that will be of benefit to anyone interested in the records of the church.  

The new site is now available at http://archives.anglican.ca

Rather than simply migrate everything to a new server as-is, the archives and the Church's IT staff took this as an opportunity to make substantial improvements. To help fit the work into everyone's busy schedules, the project was divided into two phases, making each half more manageable.

In the first phase, Andornot provided a methodology to help staff analyze their multiple existing Inmagic DB/TextWorks databases and determine data clean-up options. We worked with IT staff to provision a new server with a fresh installation of the latest version of DB/TextWorks. Databases were migrated, client workstations updated, menu screens linked, and the system otherwise made ready for use. This provides the archives with a stable, up-to-date, clean system that should run well for many years to come. 

In the second phase, we built a new search interface using our Andornot Discovery Interface. The new system allows users to explore and research archival descriptions, official statements, press releases, journal articles and photographs. Additional databases managed in DB/TextWorks may be added over time.  

The software is hosted on the Church's servers but during the design phase we hosted it locally to simplify making modifications during the rounds of feedback, and reducing the involvement needed from IT. We also offer long-term hosting for clients who don't have their own servers or the staff and resources to manage them.

The new site design is clean and simple and now coordinates with the look and feel of the main Anglican Church website. In addition, the seamless, single search across the formerly separate databases is both easy to use and encourages serendipitous discovery of information from unexpected sources.

“The General Synod Archives has already seen many researchers using the new search engine and requesting information and photographs. We have received compliments on the layout and information included, as well as the benefits of having each entry tagged so that we know exactly what the researcher is requesting without having to redo the search. The new search engine has made it a lot easier for us to make our photographs available for research and selection. Searching by rough dates and being able to break them down using the decade facet produces faster results. Indeed the various facets for refining the search have been a bonus.”

-- the archivists of the General Synod Archives, Anglican Church of Canada

As with all our Andornot Discovery Interface projects, this site for the Anglican Archives now provides the best possible search experience, and includes the following features we now regard as essential in a modern search interface:

  • Automatic spelling corrections and search suggestions.
  • Relevancy ranked results with additional sort options.
  • Facets to easily narrow or refine a search.
  • Easy sharing of records or photos on social media such as Facebook and Pinterest.
  • Add to list option to select records.
  • Responsive layout for use with tablets and smart phones.
  • Accessibility for users with disabilities.

We're always available to discuss upgrades to your DB/TextWorks-based systems, or enhanced search interfaces for any collection using one of the several software systems we support. Send us a link to your current search interface and we'll get back to you with our evaluation! 

Stanford's King Institute Launches New Documents Search Engine

by Jonathan Jacobsen Thursday, May 11, 2017 1:03 PM

Last year, Andornot had the pleasure of working with the King Institute at Stanford University on their archival database of tens of thousands of speeches, sermons, letters, and other documents by and about Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Known as OKRA (Online King Records Access), the database includes descriptive information as well as holdings details for these resources held at repositories all over the United States. 

In that first project, we conducted a major rebuild of their DB/TextWorks-based databases to make it more usable by staff and students at the Institute.

This year, we were able to upgrade the web-based search interface for this resource with one built from our Andornot Discovery Interface

The new search interface is available at http://okra.stanford.edu and offers researchers features that will greatly help their work, such as:

  • type-ahead suggestions of names, places and topics as a user starts a search;
  • spelling corrections and search suggestions;
  • a sophisticated search engine that presents the most relevant results first (with an option to re-sort by title or date);
  • facets to easily refine a search by name, place, topic, date and other aspects of the data;
  • handy tools for saving and bookmarking records, emailing them, or sharing them on social media; and
  • an advanced search form for constructing highly specific searches, or for simply browsing all available names, topics, places and other key indexes of the data.

The new search engine adopts the same layout and design as the main King Institute website, for a seamless transition between the two.

Contact Andornot for data management and search solutions similar to this one.

Council documents migration and new search interfaces for the City of Burnaby

by Kathy Bryce Wednesday, January 11, 2017 9:57 AM

Andornot has recently completed a project to assist the City of Burnaby migrate various historical council documents from an outsourced search service to internally hosted websites using the Andornot Discovery Interface (AnDI).  The previous site was organized so that files were Previous systemviewable in a hierarchical structure organized by document types, meeting types and years. 

To permit more administrative control and more  granular searching, Andornot was contracted to create a new Inmagic DB/TextWorks database for selected Commission and Public Hearing documents. DB/TextWorks is used extensively by the City of Burnaby for the behind the scenes data entry for much of the Heritage Burnaby website, as well as for multiple other internal databases.

Boards, Committees and Commissions

Scripts were created to load details of these documents into DB/TextWorks and to extract additional metadata about each document derived from the file structure.  The new website at https://bcc.burnaby.ca/en uses the Andornot Discovery Interface to index this data from DB/TextWorks as well as the full text of the documents. Burnaby_Kingsway_searchIt permits searching and viewing agendas and minutes for past meetings of Boards, Committees and Commissions prior to 2015.  Now when searching a common term like Kingsway which brings up a 100 hits, it is possible to narrow down search results by both the Board, Committee or Commission name and the year.  In addition a snippet of text with the search term highlighted is shown to provide context.  Whereas in the previous system agendas and minutes were separated, PDF’s for both are now presented together.

Bylaws

Bylaws were also migrated from the previous service.  Heritage Burnaby already contains every Bylaw ever adopted by the City of Burnaby from its incorporation in 1892 until present Burnaby_Bylaws_search(amended, defeated, repealed), all of which are maintained in a DB/TextWorks Bylaws database.  However there was the requirement to provide access to just the current and enforceable City of Burnaby Bylaws, some of which are available in consolidated versions.   These consolidated versions were added to the Bylaws database and a separate website at https://bylaws.burnaby.ca/en was developed with options to search; view all bylaws; or pick from an A to Z listing.

Both new websites allow users to re-sort their results, add documents to a list, or share them on social media.

If you are looking for a solution to provide better access to council documents and bylaws, or any other set of documents, contact Andornot to discuss possibilities.

Vancouver Coastal Health Library Migrates to Genie and AnDI

by Jonathan Jacobsen Monday, December 12, 2016 3:15 PM

The Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) Library is a long-time Inmagic DB/TextWorks site, using the software to manage collections in Richmond, Vancouver and North Vancouver. Andornot has helped library staff in many ways, including hosting a web-based search interface to the catalogue for 15 years.

IT requirements and procedures at the health authority have, over the years, made it challenging for library staff to keep their software up to date. After considering several options, Librarian Shannon Long opted to merge the VCH collections into an instance of the Inmagic Genie library system that is shared with the BC Cancer Agency and BC Children's and Women's Hospital libraries. This cost-effective approach allows the collection to remain in a familiar Inmagic environment, with the whole system hosted, maintained and upgraded by the Provincial Health Services Agency. Andornot helped set this system up in 2015, and blogged about it here

While the collections of all three of these health agencies is managed in the shared Genie system, each has their own public-facing search system. The new interface for the VCH library collection is available at https://librarycatalogue.vch.ca and is built upon the Andornot Discovery Interface, a modern search engine widely used by Andornot clients. 

Key features of the site include:

  • Sophisticated search engine with relevancy scoring, spelling corrections and 'did you mean' search suggestions, and facets to refine search results.
  • RSS feed of latest additions to the catalogue.
  • Selection list to allow  library patrons to save items and request them from the library.
  • Quick Start pre-defined searches lead patrons to unique materials within the library’s collection.
  • Graphic design and branding to match main VCH website.

"Working with Andornot Consulting over the years has always been a pleasure. We are happy to be able to continue this relationship and are looking forward to using our new Genie and AnDI systems to manage our library collections. Andornot staff made this transition seamless; the conversion came in under budget and on time. We love the modern features of the new AnDI interface, especially the RSS feeds and Quick Start topics, and believe that our library patrons will find these helpful as well." Shannon Long, Librarian

All of the health authority libraries in British Columbia use Inmagic software to manage their collections, with a combination of systems supported by Andornot for web-based searching by staff and others. These systems include Andornot Discovery Interface, VuFind and the Umbraco Content Management System.

Catalogues for each health authority are available at these links:

Andornot also works with health units and hospitals across Canada, and attends the Canadian Health Libraries Association annual conference each year.

Contact us to discuss systems for managing your health care library collection, patient education materials, and similar information.

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!

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