Bulkley Valley Museum Collection Now Online

by Jonathan Jacobsen Monday, April 11, 2016 9:25 AM

Since 1967, the Bulkley Valley Museum has built up a permanent collection of artifacts and documentary heritage materials that represent the human and natural history of the Town of Smithers, British Columbia, and the surrounding Bulkley Valley. This collection is now available online for the first time at http://search.bvmuseum.com

Andornot initially helped the museum to upgrade their DB/TextWorks-based collection management system, using our Andornot Starter Kits for archives and museum artifacts. We then used the Andornot Discovery Interface to build and host the site.

The search engine contains records for over 8,000 of the museum's archival and museum holdings, including 5,000 digitized historic photographs. Highlights of the collection include information on:

  • area railroads and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway;
  • fossils, rocks and minerals and the natural history of the area;
  • telegraphs;
  • farming and agriculture; and
  • records from Smithers, Telkwa, Moricetown and Hazelton towns.

On the site, users can share their favourite items to Facebook and Twitter, and generate PDFs or print lists of items they are interested in. 

Users can also provide feedback to the museum via email on specific photographs and records. This form of crowd-sourcing will help identify people whose names have been lost to history, and even with hours of the website launch, was proving popular.

"Our new website is part of the Museum's ongoing efforts to make its collections more accessible to our local communities, enabling users from anywhere in the Bulkley Valley, or anywhere in the world, to learn about our local history. 

We are 30-60 minutes away from some of the communities we serve and collect from, so having our collections online is really going have an impact on access to history for local researchers and for use in the classroom by students."

- Kira Westby, Curator, Bulkley Valley Museum

The Bulkley Valley Museum was one of several recipients of the Library and Archives Canada Documentary Heritage Communities Program, which provides grants to select organizations for projects such as this. They join a growing list of Andornot clients who have selected the Andornot Discovery Interface to make their collections searchable online.

Contact Andornot to discuss a similar project for your museum or archives.

Ottawa Jewish Archives Collections Now Searchable Through CJHN.ca

by Jonathan Jacobsen Wednesday, April 06, 2016 10:45 AM

The Ottawa Jewish Archives joins a growing list of Jewish archives across the country whose collections are searchable online through the Canadian Jewish Heritage Network website: http://www.cjhn.ca

Established in 1969, the Ottawa Jewish Archives strives to maintain the collective memory of the Jewish Community of Ottawa by acquiring, preserving, and making accessible holdings which document the history, growth, and development of the Jewish community within Ottawa and the National Capital Region. 

With an archival collection that tells the story of community life in Ottawa from the 1890’s to the current day, the Archives contains a wide range of records relating to individuals and families, community organizations and events, congregations, and businesses. 

This is the first time that the holdings of the Ottawa Jewish Archives have been accessible online in the Archive’s 47 year history. 

"This is a major achievement for the Archives. Through modernization of access to our collections and advancement of our digital agenda, we can make the remote accessible and the hard to see visible. This project enables the Archives to more effectively meet user expectations, encourage discovery of our collections, and better deliver archives services." 

– Saara Mortensen, Archivist, Ottawa Jewish Archives. 

"This addition brings the archival holdings of a third Canadian province into the network; the Ottawa Jewish Archives being the first archive from Ontario to add information about its collections to our shared database." 

– Janice Rosen, Archives Director, Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives. 

(l-r) CJHN founding partners Janice Rosen and Shannon Hodge, with Ottawa Jewish Archives archivist Saara Mortensen.

Andornot helped the Ottawa Jewish Archives with adjustments to their DB/TextWorks-based archival records system. Andornot developed and hosts the CJHN.ca site based on our Andornot Discovery Interface search engine.

The Ottawa Jewish Archives was one of several recipients of the Library and Archives Canada Documentary Heritage Communities Program, which provides grants to select organizations for projects such as this.

Contact Andornot to discuss projects similar to this for your organization.

Heritage Burnaby Website Wins Heritage BC Award

by Kathy Bryce Wednesday, March 02, 2016 2:23 PM

The City of Burnaby’s Heritage Burnaby website (www.heritageburnaby.ca) has won one of Heritage BC’s 35th Anniversary awards. Heritage Burnaby won in the category of Heritage Education & Awareness for the upgrades in 2015 to the Heritage Burnaby website and search engine.

This site was initially developed by Andornot in 2008, then upgraded in 2015 to use the Andornot Discovery Interface (AnDI), Instead of having to search each collection separately, users canHeritageBurnabyResultScreen now type in a keyword and instantly see a combined listing of results from the collections of the City of Burnaby Archives, the Burnaby Village Museum, the Office of the City Clerk and Burnaby Heritage Planning. Searches can be narrowed down through facets for repository, type, date, subject, person, place etc. A good example showing the diversity of material is a search on “carousel” which is one of Burnaby’s heritage landmark buildings. This retrieves nearly 150 records with photos, sound recordings from the Archives oral history collection, books from the Museum library, and documents submitted to council, as well as the artifact records.

The new search interface is also now more forgiving, with automatic spelling corrections and “did “you mean” search suggestions which are very helpful for proper names and places where the user may be unsure of the correct spelling.

As part of this project several publications on the history of Burnaby were digitized and made full text searchable. A couple of these were indexed at the book chapter level to allow zeroing in to specific pages. These are viewable online with search words highlighted. Museum staff have reported that they are now “finding many wonderful connections between photos, records, landmarks, artifacts, and library resources” that were not apparent before. (Lisa Codd, Curator)

The update also included development of a new website with content managed in an Umbraco CMSallowing staff to add blog posts and update content easily. The research page provides more information on the types of materials included, and allows users to search only specific collections, or select neighbourhoods on a map, to see all resources from specific areas. The new website design is responsive to provide a mobile friendly interface, and includes features for streaming audio and video files. Behind the scenes, records are maintained in multiple Inmagic DB/TextWorks databases and extracted and indexed by AnDI when approved for public access.

Everything you wanted to know about Burnaby is at your fingertips,” as a result of this new upgrade! Please contact Andornot if you’d like to discuss options for updating your search interface or combining a search of multiple types of materials into one combined search.

King Institute at Stanford University Upgrades DB/TextWorks Archival Solution

by Jonathan Jacobsen Wednesday, January 20, 2016 8:44 AM

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute at Stanford Universityuses DB/TextWorks to manage an 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. Digitized audio and video recording are also available.

A web-based data entry system had been developed many years ago, using Inmagic WebPublisher PRO. However, advances in web technologies had resulted in problems with this interface. A decision was made to replace it with a purely DB/TextWorks-based solution.

Andornot upgraded the query screens, reports and data entry forms in the main database to ones based on our Andornot Starter Kit, for improved usability. Script-buttons were included to assist with searching and editing records, and scripts and other validation was added to the data entry forms to aid in looking up information in other databases, and to restrict some user groups' access the database. Secondary databases were converted to thesauri so that they could be used as validation lists, but with multiple selections possible in a field and record in the main database.

Online search access using Inmagic WebPublisher PRO remains available at http://okra.stanford.edu though this interface may also be upgraded in the near future.

Please contact Andornot for assistance with your Inmagic-based databases, and similar projects.

New Search Options for the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Library and Archives

by Jonathan Jacobsen Friday, November 20, 2015 10:30 AM

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania maintains a collection of tens of thousands of resources related to railroading in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The collection is diverse - historical, political, cultural, social, economic, and technological - and emphasizes its development from the 1830s through the present day. Every manner of printed materials is in the collection, from annual reports to timetables, as well as an extensive set of photographs and negatives. A reference library contains books, periodicals, railroad association and union publications, government documents, and trade catalogues.

Public search access has been available for many years through an interface developed by Andornot using our Andornot Starter Kit. However, as with all websites and applications, renewal and refurbishment is necessary every few years, to keep up with technology standards and user expectations. In particular, we noticed that the search logs indicated no records found for many user searches, so we knew that some new features were needed to help users connect to resources.

In 2015, the museum began a project with Andornot to develop a new, modern search engine using the Andornot Discovery Interface (AnDI). This is now available at http://rrmuseumpa.andornot.com 

"We had two primary objectives – to replace an earlier online catalog search system that was sagging under the growing weight of tens of thousands of new records and images, and to make the system more useful to users who have become accustomed to the more intelligent finding systems currently available in so many places on the web. Andornot delivered admirably on both needs." -- James Alexander, Jr., the museum's webmaster and lead on this project.

Large Collection Needs Advanced Search Features

The new search offers users access to over 270,000 records from both the library and archives databases, which were formerly separate. 80,000 of these records have digitized photographs available online. With such a large data set, advanced search features are needed to help researchers uncover resources of interest to them.

AnDI's Apache Solr search engine excels at indexing large data sets. The more records that are available to it, the better it can analyze words and perform frequency analysis on them, one of the many algorithms it uses to deliver relevant results first.

Key to the search process are the facets that allow researchers to narrow their initial search by many criteria, such as the names of railroads, individuals, corporations and other organizations, subjects, geographic places, and dates.

As with all AnDI sites, users can view brief and full records, view photographs in a gallery layout, save records to a list, share search results on social media, and of course, access the site as easily from a tablet or phone as a desktop web browser.

The small selection of videos included in search results are published through the museum's YouTube channel to expose the museum to the widest possible audience. A YouTube player is embedded in search results for playback within the new site.

AnDI Handles Spelling Variations

As is to be expected with such a large collection, entered over many years by a variety of people, spelling variations and typographic errors have crept in. AnDI helps users locate resources despite this, using two key features:

1. The Apache Solr search engine in AnDI is very, very good at parsing terms from records and suggesting correct terms based on what's in the records and what user's search for. These appear in search results as spelling corrections and "Did you mean?" suggestions, which a user may click to try a different search.

2. A synonym list created by museum staff relates correct terms to some of the many variations that appear. 

For example, the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway appears in around 7,000 records, but with the name Susquehanna spelled at least 11 different ways. Given that searchers may not enter the correct spelling either, the search problem is not trivial! The combination of the synonym list and Solr's other suggestions and corrections helps ensure that no matter how either the data was originally entered, nor how a user searches for it, AnDI can return relevant and complete results.

A video introduction and written search help are both available to introduce users to the site. 

Inmagic DB/TextWorks for Back-End Data Management

Behind the scenes, the museum continues to use Inmagic DB/TextWorks to manage these records. This database management system is invaluable to them in managing metadata, selecting standard metadata from validation lists, and providing access to volunteers for every-day data entry.

The museum's search engine continues to be hosted by Andornot as part of our managed hosting service.

"While Andornot had available a well-built modern search system in AnDI, they spent a lot of time with us learning about our particular users' needs, helping us think through the most useful processes, and refining the search experience. They know the business of both managing records internally and helping users find what they need. 

In the process two things happened – we learned more about the strengths and weaknesses in our data entry processes, and the usefulness and public recognition of our holdings were enhanced through improved web access.  The search help video was a real plus, and they worked with us in making our search page both functional and attractive." – James Alexander, Jr.

We're very pleased to continue our work with the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. Contact us to discuss upgrades and search options for your museum collections.

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