Transportation Association of Canada Library Upgrades Web Search Options

by Jonathan Jacobsen Tuesday, January 31, 2017 6:49 PM

The Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) uses Inmagic DB/TextWorks to manage a library catalogue and databases of reports, manuals, and other literature related to transportation. The collection includes materials from governments, universities, associations and the private sector, both in Canada and abroad.

TAC approached Andornot to discuss upgrading the web search interfaces to their library databases to a more modern design with some new features. The existing interfaces, as well as the new ones, use Inmagic WebPublisher PRO for search and display, but were looking dated and didn't match the TAC website.

Andornot used our Andornot Starter Kit web interface for WebPublisher PRO to design new interfaces for three of TAC's DB/TextWorks databases. Each interface is available in both English and French, and the overall design matches the TAC website for a more integrated look. 

"The search interface for the library catalogue was functional but limited.  With few internal resources to dedicate to the project, we approached Andornot about using the Starter Kit to improve the appearance and features of the interface. The result was quickly achieved and a vast improvement over the previous forms.  I'm looking forward to seeing how members respond to these new search features." -- Glenn Cole, TAC Library

Key features of the sites include automatic stemming and ANDing of search words, browsable indexes, RSS feeds, book covers from Google when available, a selection list for saving items, and an interface that adapts to the user's screen size, so it's just as usable on a phone or tablet as on the desktop.

The three databases available online for public searching include:

  1. The TAC Library Catalogue database contains over 25,000 documents from major Canadian transportation agencies as well as many international organizations. Items may be borrowed by those with a one-time need for them.
  2. The Current Practices and Innovations database contains information on maintenance, construction, road safety and climate change.
  3. The Canadian Surface Transportation Research database offers information on research about a wide range of transportation themes, such as economics, the environment, soils and materials, highway and bridge design, construction and maintenance, traffic engineering, vehicle studies and rail transportation.

Many resources in these databases are available for immediate access as PDFs.

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

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!

Explore Heritage Resources with a Map Interface

by Jonathan Jacobsen Monday, October 31, 2016 11:31 AM

Maps are a wonderful way to explore a collection that has a geographic aspect. Zooming, panning and clicking pins are a fun and interactive means for users to discover resources, as well as to see the spatial relationship between them. 

Some example uses for a map interface are to plot items such as:

  • Photographs taken around the world.
  • Landmarks and historic places or streets.
  • Public art on city streets.
  • Artifacts found or manufactured in various locations.

Over the years, Andornot has added geographic features to many projects, ranging from very simple links to Google maps showing a single point, to dynamic applications that plot multiple records on a single map, scaling the map up and down as new resources are added to the underlying database.

Andornot's map interfaces can be added to our Andornot Discovery Interface as well as used with Inmagic WebPublisher PRO and our Andornot Starter Kit.

The examples below are intended to give you ideas for adding a map interface to your collection, ranging from full featured dynamic interfaces down to very simple links to Google Street Views.

Dynamic Map Interface

The Ontario Jewish Archives' Jewish Landmarks of Ontario is an excellent example of a dynamic map interface. Pins are drawn on an open source map based on the latitude and longitude in records in the underlying database.

The map automatically zooms out to encompass all the available pins, but users can easily zoom in to an area of particular interest, with the pins rearranging to show as many as can fit on the screen.

Any pin can be clicked to bring up more details about the location.

Using filters at the top of the interface, the range of pins shown can be limited by time period and category.

This particular map interface has the Andornot Discovery Interface behind it, for full-featured textual searching as well as geographic browsing.

Static Image Map

Not every organization has the budget for the dynamic map interface above, but can still add a geographic search option using static image maps. In web development, an image map is any image with coordinates applied to it. 

For example, in these maps of the City of Richmond, coordinates allow users to click on current and historic planning areas, as well as legal lot descriptions, to view associated records, which are themselves maps (yes, a map to search for a map!).

The Heritage Burnaby Charting Change Atlas is another example of static maps with overlaid data.

These static maps are relatively quick and simply to create, but do have the disadvantage of not scaling up or down in size for mobile devices. And of course, they don't show results on map, only the overall geographic area, so they don't give users a sense of how records are arranged geographically. But still, with minimal effort, they add a new starting point to any search.

Simple Map or Street View Link

Our last example shows a link in a single search result, for a building, to its location in a Google map. This doesn't help a user to search geographically, but can at least direct them to a physical place once they find something of interest. This could be combined with either of the above map interface ideas to provide more than one geographic feature.

GIS Systems, HistoryPin and More

If your organization has an existing GIS system, especially one made publicly available as is the case in many municipalities, you might be able to layer your cultural collections into that system. People can use all the features of the existing GIS system to search and browse your region, with the choice to enable a cultural layer showing information about artifacts, photos, buildings, etc. in your historic collections.

Another option to explore is to add content to web services that already have a mapping component, such as HistoryPin.

Most of the above ideas are based on your records having latitude and longitude information in them. It's not too hard to add this, based on place names. Andornot can help to "geocode" your data so it's ready for any of these map interface ideas.

As you can see with the above examples, there's a mapping option available for every budget and need, and for different types of collections.

Contact us to discuss giving a fun, interactive new face to any of your collections.

ARLIS Launches Susitna Doc Finder VuFind Catalog

by Jonathan Jacobsen Monday, October 10, 2016 1:09 PM

Over the past couple of years, Andornot has helped the Alaska Resources Library & Information Services (ARLIS) launch, then upgrade, a VuFind-powered catalog of Alaska North Slope natural gas pipeline work from the past 40 years. 

A second VuFind catalog has recently been added to the ARLIS site: the Susitna Doc Finder

The Susitna Doc Finder is a comprehensive catalog of documents that have resulted from every phase of the historic 1980s Susitna Hydroelectric Project (SuHydro Project), as well as those documents continually being produced since 2010 under the current Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project (SuWa Project).

Records for this catalog are managed in both a MARC cataloguing ILS, as well as a local Inmagic DB/TextWorks database. Exports from both are indexed nightly by VuFind, using heavily customized import mappings and additional fields and browse indexes. 

Almost all records link to PDF reports from the project. Text is extracted from these and indexed, to complement the excellent initial metadata. 

Cover images of these PDF reports are generated during indexing and appear in search results, in several sizes, both for visual interest, and to give a glimpse of a report before clicking to download it.

The web interface uses a VuFind theme built from the ever-popular Twitter Bootstrap responsive web framework. Almost all of Andornot's web projects use this or a similar responsive framework to provide the same level of access on devices of all sizes and shapes, from full-size desktop browsers down to tablets and phones.

Results from this VuFind system are also available through Google, as Google has crawled and indexed the VuFind system.

Further information:

Contact us to discuss options for a discovery interface style of search for your catalogue or other collection, using VuFind or the Andornot Discovery Interface.

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