Automating Municipal Records Transfers to an Archives

by Jonathan Jacobsen Monday, May 16, 2016 8:23 PM

Andornot recently helped a municipal archives save hours of manual work when civic records are transferred to them, by automating part of the data transfer process. 

This municipal archives uses Inmagic DB/TextWorks to manage their collections. The many departments in the municipality complete a form when they are transferring records to the archives. The form is a fillable PDF form, but when the archives receives it with the records, they still need to re-key, or copy and paste, data into their DB/TextWorks system.

This fillable PDF form was altered so that a Submit button placed prominently on the form generates an XML file in Adobe's .xfdf format. Andornot developed an XSLT that can be used by DB/TextWorks' data import feature to transform data from this XML file into DB/TextWorks records. The XSLT selects appropriate data from the XML, and adds some default values like the material type, some notes, etc. 

Dozens of records can now be imported in seconds or minutes, ready for the archives to review and edit further.

Further automation is also possible using the Inmagic Importer, which can monitor a folder and import files when they appear. This would allow the archives to drop multiple XML files from the transfer forms into a folder at once and then a few minutes later, access those records in the DB/TextWorks database.

Approaches like this are great for all sorts of institutions. Another common example is libraries sourcing catalogue records from other catalogues, such as by using BookWhere software, and importing those records into their catalogue, through DB/TextWorks or Genie.

Contact Andornot for assistance improving your workflow  and automating repetitive tasks like this example.

Succession planning and your databases

by Kathy Bryce Tuesday, May 03, 2016 8:45 PM

We’ve heard recently from several long time clients that they are retiring soon or considering a move to another job. Most are concerned about their “legacy” when they leave, and so we have been talking about succession planning with regard to their databases.  Many have been using Inmagic software for many years and know it well.  However for their replacement coming in fresh, it’d be helpful to provide some documentation and background information, especially if there is no overlap and the new person will be faced with learning the software on their own.

Sometimes it’s hard to look at a system from an outsiders perspective especially if “it works fine and has always been that way”. For example, we came across a client recently who used basic everything, i.e. basic query screens, basic reports and basic edit screen.  He regularly needed to work on writing abstracts which often exceeded the default 3 lines provided in a basic edit screen, so he would use the scroll bar up and down to view the contents as he typed.  

image edit-ASK

Basic edit screen

Edit screen from the Andornot Starter Kit with field groupings, boxes sized for contents, added help tips.

It was something he’d never thought about, but he had to admit that creating a new edit screen with the box height set as unlimited made life much, much easier. Basic screens also always list fields in the textbase structure order, but fields may have been added over the years resulting in no logical groupings.  Think how confusing working with basic screens will be to a newcomer to your system!

We therefore suggest you make it easier on your successor by doing a check of the usability of your databases and writing up notes on your infrastructure. This will also be helpful for new IT staff, and if you have to contact Inmagic for support.

  • Which version of the software is installed and what are the serial numbers?  What is the operating system of the server? Where is the software installed and who has access set up to use it?  Are there any older versions of the software that should be uninstalled?
  • Where are all your databases located on the server?  In multiple folders?  Are any restricted to certain staff or have other special permissions? Do they have passwords? Are there any older copies that may have been saved as backups or are the remnants of recover operations?  Search for *.tba or *.cba to check, then delete the duplicate copies now to avoid confusion later. Are there any obsolete or test databases that could be deleted or archived?
  • Are all your database field names clear and unambiguous?  In older versions of DB/TextWorks there was a limit to their length so we’ve seen some pretty cryptic abbreviations!  Are all the fields in use still?
  • Do you have unused report forms or edit screens.  Are they named clearly and consistently?
  • If you have Genie or WebPublisher PRO, where are these installed and what is the web address and full UNC server path? Do you have access to these folders?  If you have DB/Text for SQL, do you have access to the Admin tool? Is the Importer set up for automated import of data?  If so, what is the source and the format?
  • For WebPublisher PRO are there test or unused query screens? Is the data live immediately or is there some script that transfer databases nightly to a webserver? (This can cause much head scratching trying to figure out why changes don’t appear if this workflow is not documented.)
  • If you haven’t upgraded to version 15 or 15.5 yet, note that this requires an upgrade to your textbases and thus the textbase and forms creation date will be updated too.  This was previously a handy way of checking on the vintage to help determine the history and retention value.

Check out our series of blog posts from last year on Spring Cleanup for your Databases which provide some detailed suggestions covering many of these points:

See also our post on Retirement Planning for Servers. Please contact us if you need any assistance.  We are available to analyze your databases and infrastructure and can write up a report and/or implement changes to your databases to make them easier for your successor to work with.

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.

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.

Nova Scotia Health Authority Launches Provincial Hospitals Library Catalogue

by Jonathan Jacobsen Wednesday, February 24, 2016 12:03 PM

The Nova Scotia Health Authority is the latest Andornot client to launch a library catalogue using the Andornot Discovery Interface, available at http://library.nshealth.ca

The site provides patients, the public and health care professionals with a modern, mobile-friendly way to search for health information resources across the province, in physical libraries and online.

The collection includes the holdings of hospital libraries throughout Nova Scotia, including e-books, e-journals, patient education pamphlets, books, and audio-visual materials.

Previously, the library holdings of the former Capital Health Authority in Halifax alone were searchable online. Now, the new tool allows for searching of province-wide library holdings throughout the newly established Nova Scotia Health Authority, as well as the IWK Health Centre, the regional pediatric and maternity hospital in Halifax.

The Andornot Discovery Interface provides the features users expect in a modern search engine, such as spelling corrections and search term suggestions, relevancy-ranked results, and facets such as Subject, Author, Date, Location, Language and more, to quickly narrow a search.

Behind the public face is a DB/TextWorks database of holdings from individual libraries, as well as a separate database containing patient pamphlets The catalogue is managed by a team of library staff who co-ordinate data arriving from other libraries.

Contact Andornot to discuss making your collections available online in a modern way.

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