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! 

Arnprior Archives' Virtual Exhibit: 150 Years of Living Off the Land

by Jonathan Jacobsen Thursday, August 10, 2017 5:27 PM

As part of the country-wide celebrations of Canada's 150th birthday, the Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives undertook a project to celebrate 150 years of local agriculture, harvesting, production and similar activities in their area. Entitled "150 Years of Living Off the Land", the project involved research and extensive interviews with McNab/Braeside families who are producing maple syrup, honey, alpaca wool products, and vegetables, from large to very small scale producers.

The results were assembled into a virtual and physical exhibit that explores the connection between what settlers produced in the early days in the Township and what local producers are making today. Living successfully off the land means different things today than it did before confederation. 

"Learning that many years ago there was a cheese factory in Glasgow Station, not far from the current Municipal Hall, is information not many remember. Archives are the windows to our past which created the present and future." -- Tom Peckett - Mayor of McNab Braeside

The exhibit is available at https://www.adarchives.org/exhibits/150-years-of-living-off-the-land/

[A page in the exhibit with photos, quotes, interview clips and transcripts.]

The initial reaction from the community has been very positive, with comments in a guest book such as "fabulous, neat work, thanks!" and "great exhibit - very interesting".

Andornot worked with archives staff to provide a web application for mounting the virtual exhibit. Using the Umbraco Content Management System, we developed page layouts, colour choices, and features to play back the recorded interviews, all within the existing archives website.

This system may be used by the archives for more exhibits in the future, by re-using the page layouts and other work done for this project.

[The project team at the launch on Canada Day of "150 Years of Living Off the Land". From left to right: Ella Hartwick, Laurie Dougherty, Matt Regan and Dianne Brearley.]

Andornot offers a variety of options for mounting virtual exhibits, using Umbraco or the Omeka system available through our Digital History Hub site. Contact us with your ideas for an exhibit and we'll help you choose the right system and walk you through getting it going.

Richmond Archives Adds Name Origins Resource to Online Search

by Jonathan Jacobsen Tuesday, June 06, 2017 9:51 AM

I live in Richmond, part of the Metro Vancouver Regional District, and have an interest in local history, so I was particularly interested when Andornot was asked by the City of Richmond Archives to help with a project on the origins of Richmond place names. 

The City of Richmond Archives is a long time user of Inmagic DB/TextWorks for managing their collections, and were instrumental in developing the set of linked databases that became our Andornot Archives Starter Kit. Over the past couple years we’ve helped the Archives upgrade their Inmagic WebPublisher-based online search system, which is available at http://archives.richmond.ca/archives/descriptions/ 

The new Name Origins search, available at http://archives.richmond.ca/archives/places/ features almost 500 records (and growing) that document and describe the history of Richmond streets, roads, bridges, neighbourhoods, and other landmarks. It’s easy to search by keyword or by type of place, and whenever possible, a Google map of the named place is shown. This database is updated by the Friends of the Richmond Archives, volunteers with a passion for local history. Launching this new database online was made possible through the Richmond Canada 150 Community Celebration Grant Allocations. 

As I worked in the web search interface to the database, I couldn’t help but search for places in my neighbourhood and around Richmond, and become captivated by the history of them. Now community members can access this information 24-7 and learn the history behind the names of streets, areas, and landmarks in their community.

Contact Andornot for options for your Inmagic databases and for search engines and other software to make your collections accessible online.

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.

Elgin County Museum Joins Archives in Launching Upgraded Search Interface

by Jonathan Jacobsen Saturday, February 25, 2017 8:38 PM

The Elgin County Museum, as well as the Elgin County Archives, in St. Thomas, Ontario, both use Inmagic DB/TextWorks to manage their collections. A few years ago, Andornot helped the archives upgrade their public search interface to a more modern design, using our Andornot Starter Kit web application.

This year we were pleased to help the museum upgrade their public search interface too. The museum's new look is available at http://inmagic.elgin-county.on.ca/museum/ 

Both interfaces continue to use Inmagic WebPublisher PRO as the underlying search engine, but with our modern Andornot Starter Kit web application in front. This app provides features such as automatic stemming and combining of search words, browsable indexes, a selection list for saving items, and a photo commenting feature. 

The overall design matches the Elgin County website for a more integrated look and adapts to the user's screen size, so it's just as usable on a phone or tablet as on the desktop.

Several other museums in Elgin County and St. Thomas also use this system to manage their collections. The public is now able to access these collections as well, many of which have been photographed. Users can limit their search to only records that have images available online.

"This is a much more user friendly way for our Museum Partners to manage their collections," says Mike Baker, Elgin County Museum Curator.

Contact Andornot to discuss options for bringing your search interfaces up to modern standards.

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