Heritage Burnaby adds digitized oral histories.

by Kathy Bryce Monday, November 21, 2011 4:49 PM

Andornot has recently completed several exciting upgrades to the Heritage Burnaby website. The Archives received funding to digitize and create a web search interface to audio interviews on cassettes or reel to reel tapes from the last fifty years.  These interviews give an intimate glimpse into the lives of the Burnaby pioneers, and cover a wide range of subjects.  One of the common themes is the struggles that the Municipality and Burnaby families faced during the 1930s when the City went into receivership and unemployment was widespread.

As an interview could be more than an hour long, each was split into 5-10 minute tracks.  Behind the scenes Inmagic TextWorks databases HeritageBurnabyOralHistoryScreenshotwere established to capture information on the Master recording with metadata including the interviewee, date interviewed, interviewer and detailed biographical notes.  An image file showing either the interviewee or a relevant image such as the location or house discussed in the interview was also added.  Each track was then described individually and associated with the master record. Information includes the scope and content of each track, the date range, the subjects discussed and the historical neighbourhood. 

The new web interface allows users to search for any word or phrase across the descriptive fields, or by interviewee, subject or neighbourhood.  There is also an option to browse a listing of all the interviews.

Just adding a link for a user to click and then download an audio file was not an option.  Most users do not want to wait for a track to download, and they may not have an installed media player that supports the audio format.   Playback therefore relies on jPlayer, an open source HTML5 audio/video library which intelligently falls back to Adobe Flash when necessary to provide a consistent interface in all browsers.

“We are thrilled with the flexible and user-friendly interface that has allowed us to make these records publicly accessible for the first time.  By also adding the oral history database to the OneSearch feature on our site, researchers have the ability to find all related records, regardless of medium or format.  This will be an extremely useful tool for our users.”   [Arilea Sill, City Archivist]

Check out last week’s article in the Burnaby NewsLeader - Oral histories online provide fascinating look at Burnaby history or contact us for further information.

Archives Association of BC launches new website

by Kathy Bryce Friday, November 18, 2011 9:38 AM

The AABC website has re-launched with a new design in honour of Archives Week 2011 and the second anniversary of Memorybc.ca.  This project was made possible through NADP funding from Heritage Canada, Library & Archives Canada, and the Canadian Council of Archives. Through an RFP process, the AABC executive selected Andornot to design the new site and migrate the current content.

As part of the mandate of the project, the design incorporates elements of the Memory BC look and feel, with the use of the same header image and colors.  The AABC logo was also updated to a more modern style.   The structure of the site was re-organized to group pages under 5 main headings and all the content was migrated and reformatted.   Older newsletters were converted into PDF’s rather than trying to retain over 900 HTML pages and images.
 
PreviousAABCWebsite
Old site
  AABC.CA_website
New Site

Behind the scenes the site uses the open source Umbraco content management system and is hosted by Andornot.  Individual members of the executive and volunteers now have rights to edit specific sections or pages, and to upload documents into a Media Library.  The WYSIWYG content editor allows them to easily type in content, or to copy and paste from other programs. No knowledge of HTML is required as stylesheets control the formatting. 

The home page is now automatically populated by recent entries from a news blog with an RSS feed.  The same approach has been used for positions listed on the Job Board. Umbraco offers a Publish /Unpublish date feature so jobs can automatically be set to disappear after the closing date. 

Redesigning and migrating a site with so much content created over many years presented some challenges, and we are very grateful for the responsiveness of the AABC executive to our suggestions and recommendations.

“Our site needed updating for many years. The new site is much more user-friendly and is very easy to edit. Information is easier to find for our members and users, and will allow more control and diverse functionality for the AABC executive and contractors. We really like our new logo and how much the overall look and feel matches MemoryBC.ca.  Andornot’s knowledge of the BC archival community helped to make this project run smoothly.”  Jane Morrison, AABC President.

Please contact Andornot for more information.

Canadian Jewish Heritage Network Launches

by Jonathan Jacobsen Monday, June 13, 2011 3:46 PM

The Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee National Archives (CJCCCNA) and the Jewish Public Library Archives (JPL-A) are proud to announce the launch of a new website, The Canadian Jewish Heritage Network, at www.cjhn.ca.

3 The Canadian Jewish Heritage Network Search Results As two of the major organizations involved in Canadian Jewish historical research, both located in Montreal, CJCCCNA and JPL-A preserve the memory of Quebec and Montreal’s poets and politicians, its artists and activists, its builders and teachers, its families and philanthropists. Their users can now visit the collections from the comfort of their own desks, searching the online catalogue for archival collections dating from the 18th century onwards. Using the site's selection cart, users can select, e-mail, print or order archival material directly from the web.

More than 25,000 database records from these archival collections are currently online, as well as over 1,500 digitized historic photographs and archival documents. Many complete multi-page documents are available in PDF format. The digitized documents currently online include minutes, annual reports, anniversary publications, sermons, and ephemeral material.

Users of the site can also delve into the CJHN's genealogical research database, which already contains close to 50,000 genealogical records and over 5,000 associated images.

“What you see now on this website is a seamless blend of two repositories' holdings; actually a virtual ‘mind-meld’ of two institutions into a single functional entity helping researchers. Through designing the web site together it has now become natural for us to consult each other in areas of archival acquisition and even software and equipment purchases, sometimes acquiring a digitization tool in one location and trading services with each other.”

Janice Rosen, Archives Director, Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee National Archives

Andornot assisted with this project in many ways, including:

  • creating the website using the Umbraco Content Management System;
  • developing an archival database based on the Andornot Archives Starter Kit, as well as a separate genealogical database, to hold data from multiple different sources submitted by participating institutions;
  • developing data import procedures to allow staff at each organization to keep the live databases up-to-date with their local collections; and
  • hosting the website and databases and providing ongoing support and updates.

 

“Archives are not really about the past, rather we must constantly plan for the future: how will we preserve this for another five hundred years; who is going to use this archive fifty years from now; what will they need and why and so on. With this in mind we know that we will continue to push the limits of the CJHN site. With the help of Andornot's services we are assured that CJHN will grow not just in digital content but also in partners, in use, relevance and profile.”

 

Shannon Hodge, Archivist, Jewish Public Library Archives

“The CJHN is a model for honouring and preserving our history and traditions – not by locking it away in a dusty archive – but by celebrating, cultivating and sustaining our history for a stronger Canadian Jewish future. The core message of building directly on our communal memory to shape and improve our communal future is a truism that we all should keep in mind.”

Benjamin Shinewald, National Executive Director, General Counsel and Acting CEO of CJCCC

New Westminster Archives Database Now Online

by Kathy Bryce Monday, June 06, 2011 9:05 AM

New Westminster is the oldest city in Western Canada with a long and rich history.   Andornot has been working with the City Archives for several years and is delighted that a search interface to selected archival records and photos is now available at http://archives.newwestcity.ca.  “This will be the first time in our city’s history that people with access to the Internet will be able to view our excellent photograph collection from either the comfort of their homes or any other location in the world,” says archivist Barry Dykes.  Read the complete press release here. Archives search results screenshot

Behind the scenes the Archives uses Inmagic DB/Text for SQL software plus a version of the Andornot Archives Starter Kit to manage their archival descriptions.  A subset of records in the database is then transferred to the public facing website outside the firewall.  

“We enjoyed working with Andornot and are very pleased with the search interface they developed for us.  The advice and suggestions we received along the way were essential to the completion of this project. For instance, they encouraged us to incorporate some of the latest social bookmaking tools. “  [Barry Dykes]

Please contact us for more information.

Using DB/TextWorks for research notes and reference questions

by Kathy Bryce Thursday, April 21, 2011 1:37 PM

Twice this week I have been visiting clients and noticed directories full of research notes and other background historical material. However logically these file folders may be arranged and the files named, searching through for a name or topic can be time consuming.    Our Archives Starter Kit includes a Research database which is set up to allow clients to track requests for information, but it could be used for indexing existing documents too.  So today I did an experiment with the data for St George’s School in Vancouver.   The archivist, Elizabeth Knox, has compiled hundreds of Word documents and Excel spreadsheets over the years.  Research Notes screenshot

DB/TextWorks has an Import Document function, so we pointed this at a file folder of 10 or so Word documents created as part of a Christmas memories project.  We specified the field for the ingest of extracted text, and the field to hold the document path.   In just a few minutes the documents were imported and indexed.  As the file folder was named Christmas Memories we could search and find all these records, but we also added value by batch modifying after import to populate several other fields to enhance the records.  Ideally each document record should be edited individually to pull out names and events into validated fields.  However already the text of each document is fully searchable, and words and phrases  or dates can be combined using standard DB/TextWorks syntax for much more robust searching capabilities than a Windows file search. Only the text is stored within DB/TextWorks and all formatting is lost, but search terms are highlighted making it easy to quickly see if an item is of relevance. The import process can incorporate the file path to the original document for easy retrieval if after searching, the original with formatting is required.

Elizabeth plans to start logging the numerous requests she receives for information or photos of alumni, and research for various school projects.  Most of the data entry will be simple cut and paste from emails, thus making this other source of data searchable in the same interface. She will then be able to provide the school administration with reports specifying the number and type of requests and how long each took.   This in turn may help justify new projects such as digitizing old yearbooks.

“At last a system for requests coming from all sources. It is easy to search by topic or name and track the status of any request. One of the ways I am using this new addition is to store memories shared with me by Georgians for future generations to enjoy. Now I can train some student volunteers to work on the backlog! “ [Elizabeth Knox, Archivist, St George's School.]”

For assistance setting up your own Research database, please contact us.

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