DB/TextWorks Still A Popular Choice for Teaching in Schools

by Jonathan Jacobsen Saturday, October 28, 2017 7:44 AM

Inmagic DB/TextWorks continues to be a popular software application taught in schools. For example, the Library Technician programs at Langara College and the University of the Fraser Valley in B.C, as well as at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, each include it in some of their cases.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking to students in the Library Technologies and Information Management class at Langara College. These budding library techs will learn to create a database for a class project using DB/TextWorks, hopefully with a bit of inspiration from the ideas I was able to share with them.

The image above shows screens from the Andornot Starter Kit, a ready-to-use DB/TextWorks database suitable for a small library.

Not all software has such longevity as DB/TextWorks, but I think this popular app endures because it remains unique in the market. For clients of ours with a modest budget who need to manage diverse kinds of information and don't have programming skills, it remains an excellent choice, once we heavily recommend to many clients.

We see it used in law firms to create and manage databases of experts, memos, precedents, boilerplate documents, corporate archives, and of course a traditional library catalogue. In hospitals, it's used to manage patient education materials, and libraries with a strong circulation component. Elsewhere, we see it used to manage museum artifact collections, archival documents, databases of digitized historic documents and audio-visual recordings. In municipalities, it manages bylaws, real estate development applications, council documents… the list is endless. 

There are many highly-specific database applications available, tailored to the needs of particular organizations (e.g. Inmagic Genie for specialized libraries, Lucidea's Argus for museums, etc.), but few tools that are as easy to use as DB/TextWorks that can be applied to managing any kind of information. Anyone can learn to create a database and snazzy search and edit screens and have a functional, aesthetically pleasing database in a very short time, with little technical aptitude needed. Managing this information is easy with the many built-in, pre-programmed features, such as validation lists, batch modifications, the URL checker, and so on.

Two other long-standing database programs are of course MS Access, included with almost every copy of the MS Office suite, and Apple's FileMaker. The former is practically free and so ubiquitous that many people use it out of necessity, while the latter is quite visually appealing and with many useful features. However, in our experience, both require a higher level of technical skills to really make useful. DB/TextWorks simply has more of the programming already done.

It's reasons like this that cause it to still be an excellent choice in many cases, when budgets and user skills are modest, and thus is well-worthwhile learning to use in a library technician or similar programm. Paired with a search interface like our Andornot Discovery Interface, VuFind, Omeka, or Inmagic Presto, it becomes a perfect back-end to a highly functional front-end, a great combination for managing and searching information.

Contact us to learn more about any of the above, or if you're a school or student and would like a trial version of DB/TextWorks to use.

Managing Digital Collections: A Presentation to Students

by Jonathan Jacobsen Tuesday, March 10, 2015 3:22 PM

Last night I had the pleasure of speaking to students at the School of Library, Archival and Information studies (aka iSchool) at the University of British Columbia. These students are taking LIBR 582: Digital Images and Text Collections and learning all the fundamentals of how to digitize materals, manage them, and provide online access. In particular, they are using Inmagic DB/TextWorks to build a database of digitized materials, and manage the metadata associated with them, as well as CONTENTdm from OCLC for web presentation.

In last night's class, I presented Andornot's common solutions for managing digital images and text. For those who missed the presentation, here's a recap.

Inmagic DB/TextWorks and an Andornot Starter Kit

We always recommend Inmagic DB/TextWorks as an easy to use database system for managing metadata about digitized objects, whether they are textual, photographic or audio-visual, and no matter whether born digitial or scanned from an analogue source. Paired with one of our starter kits, any library, archive, museum or other organization can be up and running in just a few hours. Information can be entered in simple data entry screens, by staff or volunteers, or imported from other sources.

Inmagic WebPublisher PRO

Inmagic's original web publishing platform, combined with an Andornot kit, can provide simple search access to a DB/TextWorks database. A modern web design can be applied so that the site can be used on tablets and phones. Features such as spelling corrections and facets are not available however.

Andornot Discovery Interface (AnDI)

The Andornot Discovery Interface (AnDI) uses the popular Apache Solr search engine to provide relevancy-ranked results, spelling corrections, and facets for search refinement. Websites built with AnDI include features for displaying images in various sizes, in list or gallery format, for embedding playback of audio and video files, and for viewing and browsing individual pages of digitized documents, with highlighting of search terms on the pages.

VuFind

The open-source VuFind discovery interface is very popular with academic and public libraries, and a growing number of special ones.

Inmagic Presto

Inmagic's current generation web publishing platform offers users the ability to configure their own screens and displays with no programming required, and now includes facets for search refinement.

Omeka

The open-source Omeka content management system can be used for metadata management as well as searching. It doesn't offer spelling corrections or facets for search refinement, but does provide a very easy to use web interface and an Exhibit Builder plug-in to develop exhibits of aspects of a collection.

Information Concept Architect – do you qualify?

by Denise Bonin Sunday, March 25, 2012 11:18 PM

Quite a few years ago my husband and I went out to one of the fanciest restaurants in Vancouver – at the time - and dropped way more money than we expected.  The meal consisted of small quantities of beautifully arranged morsels of exquisitely flavoured food, served over several hours on many small white plates.  Each course, which was introduced and described in great detail had its own series of dishes, including cutlery.  And when we had finished consuming these small flavoured treasures, everything was completely cleared away, right down to the white linen each time.  Then a whole new set of dishes, cutlery and food was brought back for the next course. 

Although the food was delicious, it was certainly not filling and my husband always joked when he tells friends about this experience that he had to go out for a hamburger after it was all over.  All I could think of was how glad I was that I did not have to wash all those dishes and what a great story this will be – embellished with each retelling, of course – to make up for the cost.

But just think about the detail that went into that meal.  It must have taken hours to shop for the food, not to mention those little white dishes, prepare the reduction sauces, the dessert chocolates with the gold lettering, etc.  Clearly what was needed to coordinate the whole extravaganza was a “food concept architect.” 

Ok, I did not just make up that title.  I was recently reading a weekly Vancouver newspaper which featured many articles on food, including mention of the very chef who orchestrated or rather architected the aforementioned meal.  It all made sense when I read that.  Of course, you can’t just be a “chef” anymore – especially one who “just” cooks and serves.  No, apparently some chefs have moved far beyond that.  This “food concept architect” is apparently not the only one using this title, although I must say it has not exactly caught on if you can trust a quick Google Search. 

Is this job title “food concept architect” presumptuous or does it take a certain amount of professional cachet to call oneself that?  Is it just about PR?  I’m not an expert on that, but this got me thinking about librarians, a profession to which I proudly belong.  There are plenty of qualified librarians who would prefer to be called information manager, knowledge worker or a new one I just saw advertised: Informationist, but I don’t believe I have ever heard of "information concept architect.” I ask why not?

Just think about all the wonderful, creative, intellectual tasks that librarians do.  These range from managing a budget, designing databases, searching databases, answering reference questions, supervising/managing staff, attending meetings, defending the cost of expensive resources, deciding what services to outsource, delivering the right information to the right people at the right time, etc.  I could go on and on and on. 

Do librarians not prepare and serve up information to individuals/clients/patrons just like chefs in restaurants serve up courses?  Do they not deserve the same high-falutin’ name?  Perhaps there are only a few elite chefs who can call themselves a “food concept architect” and perhaps there are also just a few librarians who could possibly qualify to call themselves “information concept architects.”  But maybe we should keep trying.  Read Alexander Feng’s essay Corporate Librarian 2.0: New Core Competencies, Bruce Rosenstein’s essay The Core Competence of Innovation or ALA’s Core Competences of Librarianship for further inspiration and participate in Align SLAto help define our profession!

Interview with MLIS student from the University of Alberta

by Kathy Bryce Tuesday, December 14, 2010 9:14 AM

We are frequently asked by local library schools to share our experiences as librarians working in alternate careers.  Last week I met with Maria Tan, a MLIS student at the University of Alberta School of Library and Information Studies.   She was visiting Vancouver and asked if I would have some time to chat to her.  We had a wide ranging discussion about working as a library consultant and being on the “other side” as a vendor.  Check out her blog post on our interview.

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