10 Ideas to Improve your Web Presence and Help Your Users Find You

by Jonathan Jacobsen Tuesday, September 25, 2018 8:40 AM

As the air gets crisper and precipitation drives us indoors, Fall is a great time to reflect and to find energy for new projects and adventures.

Have you thought about the web presence your museum, archive or library collection has? Are you providing users with modern tools to help them research your records and share them with others. Here are 10 ideas to read on a blustery Fall day, and that could add some sparkle to your website and online collections.

  1. Upgrade to a more modern search engine, such as our Andornot Discovery Interface, with features users expect when searching. For example, see how we helped Forestry Innovation Investment with their ThinkWood Research Library.
  2. Add ever more historic content to attract users interested in local history and genealogy, like the Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives did with back issues of the Arnprior Chronicle newspaper.
  3. Add a map interface so users can browse geographically, like the one we built for the Ontario Jewish Archives.
  4. Have lots of documents? Why not index the full text of them, then when a user searches for keywords, take them directly to the most relevant page in the PDF. No more downloading and repeating the search within the PDF to find the right page. Learn more.
  5. Get out in front of Community Engagement by adding the Disqus commenting system to your search results, so users can more easily discuss items in your collection, help identify people and places, and provide feedback to you.
  6. Make sure your website or search engine is mobile friendly. Google and other search engines now place mobile-friendly results higher in their rankings. And make sure you have a sitemap and permalinks so your collection can be easily indexed by Google and Bing.
  7. Planning to digitize large works, such as maps, paintings, or architectural drawings? Will users be able to see the fine detail in the resulting images on your website or in your search engine? Our Image Zoomer can help, by allowing users to easily zoom in on specific areas of a large image, without having to download that very large file.
  8. Is your website looking dated? Maybe it has the digital equivalent of large shoulder pads or flared pants? Time for a refresh? Let us help with a Content Management System and new graphic design, like we did recently for PRCVI (the BC Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired).
  9. Can't attract the attention of your own IT staff to help with your website or software? Why not have Andornot host it?
  10. On a tight budget? Consider our low-cost Digital History Hub platform for putting collections online and making virtual exhibits.

Contact us to discuss any of these ideas, and ones of your own.

PRCVI Launches New Website, powered by Umbraco

by Jonathan Jacobsen Thursday, September 20, 2018 11:13 AM

The Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired (PRCVI) is a long-time Andornot client and has just upgraded their website to a new one powered by the popular Umbraco Content Management System.

https://www.prcvi.org

Hosted by Andonot, this new website was specifically designed to meet accessibility guidelines and provide a positive experience for visually impaired users. The primary function of PRCVI is to provide British Columbia School Districts and Group I or II Independent Schools with alternate formats of provincially recommended learning resources and with specialized equipment to support the educational needs of students with visual impairments.

Rather than come up with an entire design from scratch for the new site, PRCVI chose a theme from uSkinned.net, a provider of designs and starter kits for Umbraco. This package provided both a visual design and all the pre-built components - HTML, CSS, JS, Templates, Document Types, etc. - that an Umbraco site needs. It was easy to install and allowed PRCVI staff to immediately focus on migrating content to the new site.

PRCVI’s website includes two instances of our Andornot Discovery Interface, for searching the PRCVI Library Catalogue, and a database of Vision Teachers located throughout British Columbia. Both of these were upgraded to match the template of the main site, for a seamless transition. Users can search the entire new website as well as the library catalogue separately, from search boxes in the site header.

Andornot hosts Umbraco-powered sites for a number of clients, and continues to recommend it as a solid Content Management System for any website. Contact us to discuss your needs for self-managed online content.

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.

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!

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

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