Celebrating our history: City of Burnaby launches new heritage website

by Kathy Bryce Thursday, February 21, 2008 10:37 AM

The City of Burnaby has just launched a new Heritage Burnaby website available at http://www.heritageburnaby.ca. As stated on the website "The goal is to provide a comprehensive and interactive community heritage website that brings together the 'personal history' of our citizens to create a wider understanding and appreciation of our city's 'collective memory'. Through Heritage Burnaby you can experience, learn and research about our community's unique history through online databases and exhibits that provide access to our heritage sites and landmarks, artifact collections, archival collections and the library's history resources."

Andornot Consulting was awarded the contract to provide software and database design services and began working on the project in July 2007. Preliminary design work involved comprehensive user-interface design and work-flow scenarios along with a multitude of data conversions from inter-related Access databases, Excel spreadsheets, and Word documents from the city archives, museum, and planning department. In just over 6 months, the new Heritage Burnaby system was running with multiple search interfaces and eye-catching image displays all seamlessly integrated within the new web site template created by Atomic Crayon.
"Our City's initial project concept of an online database of historic photographs was able to grow far beyond our own expectations through working with Andornot. The team worked to create a website design that took our initial small project to a higher level to provide the public with a user-friendly comprehensive and integrated database of our museum, archives and heritage collections. The framework conceptualized by our staff in concert with Andornot has created a website that allows us ultimate flexibility to continue to create an elaborate online celebration of the cultural heritage of our community". (Jim Wolf, Heritage Planner, City of Burnaby.)
Behind the scenes, the City is running Inmagic Content Server Professional with desktop access to all the databases for administrative staff through CS/TextWorks and web access through the firewall using CS WebPublisher PRO. Andornot was able to speed the development process through the use of several Andornot add-on products such as Archives Online, the WebPublisher Developer Kit (WPDK), and Image Manager. The custom databases created for the museum and heritage landmarks use the same style and structure as Archives Online and both link to shared thesauri for subjects, names, historical and current neighborhoods. The web interface provides multiple methods of accessing the databases with quick and advanced search options, plus canned searches on popular topics, and image maps with embedded canned searches to allow users to quickly find all resources for a particular neighborhood.

Images can be viewed either with brief descriptive information or in a gallery view. Image resizing is handled automatically from one master image and multiple images are displayed on the full displays. (Try the sample search for automobiles in the artifact collection.)

A key feature of the site is the OneSearch capability, allowing users to search across all four of the main collections simultaneously using Andornot's OneSearch add-on.

This has been an incredibly exciting project for Andornot and we have thoroughly enjoyed working with City staff to deliver this project on a very tight schedule so that it could be launched for BC Heritage Week. We had some intense brainstorming sessions which resulted in the expansion of the original scope and many more ideas for continued future developments.
"Working with Andornot was a great experience with a diverse staff team from several civic departments. Andornot met and exceeded all of our expectations for delivery of a comprehensive database product that was user friendly and easy to upload our various data collections and adapt to our new webpages. Our project was infused with a sense of fun and spirit by the Andornot team which is reflected in the website. We could not have chosen a better consultant or product for this project". (Jim Wolf, Heritage Planner, City of Burnaby.)
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