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.

New Catalogue Search for Vancouver Island Health Authority Library

by Jonathan Jacobsen Tuesday, July 05, 2016 4:44 PM

The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) has used Inmagic DB/TextWorks for many years to manage their library collections. This year, VIHA joined other health authority libraries around British Columbia in upgrading their web-based library catalogue search interface to a modern, feature-rich system: the Andornot Discovery Interface (AnDI).

The new catalogue is available at http://viha.andornot.com 

The updated system is comparable to the search interfaces found in most university and public libraries, with a quick search box and then the ability to drill down through the results. Features include:

  • A sophisticated search engine and relevancy-ranked search results put the most useful items in front of users quickly.
  • Automatic spelling corrections and "did you mean?" search suggestions improve the search experience, especially when dealing with medical terminology.
  • Facets such as library location, material type, subject, author and date and allow users to quickly and simply refine their search.
  • An eResources facet allows users to bring up materials that are available online as e-Books or links to websites.
  • A selection list helps users to mark items of interest as they search, then view, print or email the list, as well as complete a form to request those items form the library.
  • The new interface is fully usable on tablets and smartphones for on-the-go access.

The site includes canned search links for special topics and collections and a more prominent listing of new titles, also available as an RSS feed. Book covers from Open Library are included automatically if available, based on ISBNs in the record.

The site is hosted and maintained by Andornot with automated updates from DB/TextWorks, which remains the back-end data management tool.

Contact Andornot to discuss similar upgrades to your search interfaces.

Société historique de Saint-Boniface Upgrades Archives Search Interface

by Jonathan Jacobsen Sunday, April 24, 2016 8:37 PM

The Centre du patrimoine (Heritage Centre) of the Société historique de Saint-Boniface is an archive and research facility dedicated to the preservation, study, dissemination and development of Francophone and Metis history in Manitoba and Western Canada. The Heritage Centre holds more than 500 archival fonds documenting every facet of life from culture to commerce, education to politics and religion to the economy.

In 2010-2011, Andornot helped the Heritage Centre to upgrade their DB/TextWorks-based collection management system, and publish the data online using our Andornot Starter Kit. This also included a collection of 35,000 records of contracts between fur traders (Voyageurs) and companies engaged in the fur trade in Canada between 1700 and ca. 1822.

This year, thanks to a grant from the Library and Archives Canada Documentary Heritage Communities Program, the Heritage Centre was able to upgrade this web search interface to one powered by the Andornot Discovery Interface (AnDI). The site is hosted by Andornot at http://archivesshsb.mb.ca

AnDI offers features not available in the previous site, such as the ability to search the museum, library and Voyageurs collections together, a more advanced search engine, spelling corrections and search suggestions, and facets to help users narrow their search.

The interface is designed for both desktop and mobile devices. There are features that help users view enlarged images, and to play back video recordings without leaving the site. 

New to the site in this upgrade are large high-resolution scans of architectural drawings. Even on large screens with an image at full-width, it can be hard to see small details in an architectural drawing, so Andornot implemented an image zooming feature that allows users to see both the whole drawing and enlargements of selected portions without having to download a very large image file.

Other useful features include an RSS feed of newly-added records, and a selection list that allows users to save, email or print records, or request more information on them from the Heritage Centre.

"The results are just fantastic and the transition was practically seamless."

-- Gilles Lesage, Directeur general, Centre du patrimoine

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

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