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Details of the Department of Canadian Heritage Museum Assistance Program (MAP) are now online at https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/funding/museums-assistance.html.

There is a Collections Management component which covers database and web search interfaces or upgrades, as well as an Indigenous Heritage component.

Check out the eligibility criteria and contact us if you’d like to discuss how we could work with you to apply for funding.

Note the deadline for applications is November 1st, 2019.

Many organizations have a mandate to engage with their community and provide a forum for dialogue about their collections and their role in their community. Others simply value the information their community has about their collections and welcome feedback and information. For example, in a special library, senior staff may be able to recommend particular works as key texts in their field. In an archives or museum, community members may be able to help identify places and people in photographs, or add information about the history of a place or document.

Our Andornot Discovery Interface offers both simple and more sophisticated methods to assist with “crowdsourcing” campaigns such as these.

1. Every AnDI site can include a button labeled Feedback or Comments with a simple email link, allowing users to send you direct feedback on specific records. While simple, it relies on users having an email client available to send from.

Feedback

2. AnDI’s selection list (cart) can also be used to solicit feedback from users on many records at once. Users may add records to their cart, then comment on them in a form, with the information sent to you via email directly from AnDI.

3. The more sophisticated approach is to add a more dynamic commenting system to your AnDI site via the third-party Disqus service. Disqus is one the most popular commenting services on the web today, and can be found embedded in a wide variety of websites. It is supported by ad-revenue, but non-profits have the option to opt-out of ad display, and there are no fees for using the service. Each record in AnDI would have its own comment channel / discussion, so that users can comment on or discuss books, photographs, artifacts, archival records, and other information in your site. Disqus offers a robust back-end, so you can choose to have all comments moderated before they appear, and otherwise manage the activity.

Disqus

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.

The Centre added Disqus commenting to their AnDI site (https://archivesshsb.mb.ca) a few years ago and has seen regular and meaningful discussions taking place online. In 2019 we adjusted the site to promote records with discussion activity on the home page, and to show a count of comments in search results.

All of the above options will have the greatest success if paired with a campaign to raise awareness of the features and need for assistance. Social media, print media, contests and all the other promotional tools of the trade may be employed.

At Andornot we are often asked to speak to classes of students at various university library and archives programs.  Last week I was invited to UBC to give a presentation on heritage convergence and GLAM projects to an Archives for Librarians class.  Many GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) initiatives are focused on large, complex collaborations but I wanted to share our successes with many smaller scale implementations.

These projects generally result in a new or updated website that allows users to perform a Google like single search across a mixture of content from various sources, either related to a particular topic or a particular location.  Some examples of these integrated searches include:
Local history resources focus:

Topic based resources focus:

All too often we find that clients are reluctant to explore possibilities for fear that it will be too expensive or too time consuming.  However we can guide you through the process and for many projects, can get a new search interface up and running for you in just a few days.  Data is exported from whatever local systems you use for administrative control of your records so there is minimal impact on your normal business processes or workflow.  (A project usually spans 2 to 3 months in total, to allow time for discussions, design, and a couple of rounds of feedback.)

We always remind clients that “It’s not about you” and the need to design a site that is geared to the search competencies and requirements of their end users.  This may mean agreeing on plain language terminology, minimizing acronyms and technical terms.

Feedback indicates that these multiple content sites have proved very popular.  Users love the single search interface and the integrated results lists.  We’ve heard that even staff who thought they knew their collections have been surprised to find documents they did not realize existed as they were in an unexpected database.  The modern look and functionality of these sites have helped boost the image of the organizations, and provided opportunities for enhanced community involvement through the social sharing, feedback and commenting features.

Take a look through some of these sites and then contact us to see how we can help you!

by Marla Dobson, Curator, Museum of Health Care at Kingston

Walking into the Toronto Hilton for the 2019 Canadian Museums Association Conference, I was eager to get to know some of my fellow colleagues and to engage in some big thinking on behalf of the Museum of Health Care at Kingston. I am very grateful to Andornot for awarding me their Professional Development Grant, which allowed me to enjoy this conference.

Image 3

In total, I attended four educational sessions, two of which were, on paper, about art. As a PhD in art history, this is a topic close to my heart. While this may, at first glance, seem at odds with the role of Curator of the Museum of Health Care, I believe that we can learn a lot about providing a people-centered visitor experience by examining the ways in which communities engage with the arts. At their core, these sessions demonstrated new ways of thinking about museum programming, not just in art galleries, but in museums of all kinds. Through the use of artist-in-residence programs as well as arts-based therapy programs, many museums are more deeply engaging their communities and providing innovative and potentially life-changing programming. The overall takeaway was the importance of involving your community more actively in programming, as well as thinking more creatively and thematically about your collections.

Another session I attended was all about abstract thinking in exhibition planning. For many years, museums have typically focused on providing ‘cold hard facts’ as central components of their exhibitions. While this is obviously still of vital importance, especially in the case of science and medicine museums, the session facilitators pushed us to think about how thematic and abstract ideation could help create more dynamic and engaging displays. At the end of the day, studies have shown that informational, text heavy exhibitions are not the best way to convey ideas. Thus, it is useful to consider interpretive methodologies that ask broader questions, provoke conversations, and deal with more abstract themes in order to make content more relevant and engaging. This way of thinking struck a chord with me in terms of the Museum of Health Care collections, which can be used to address a number of themes related to the human experience of health and disease.

Image 5Overall, these sessions helped to focus my thoughts and gave me ideas moving forward as a curator. I was also lucky enough to meet many interesting and influential people, as well as listen to a keynote address by Indigenous artist Kent Monkman, who spoke eloquently about the need to decolonize museums across the country. These experiences inspired me to think bigger and to consider the ways in which our organizations can continue to move beyond insular, traditional ways of thinking.

The Canadian Medical Association publishes policies and briefs on a wide range of health topics, representing the position of the CMA's members.

This database has long been available online, but is now powered by our Andornot Discovery Interface.

The new site is available at https://policybase.cma.ca and is hosted by Andornot within our Managed Hosting service.

CMA-Policies-AnDI

The site offers users the features they expect from a modern search engine: spelling corrections, "did you mean" search suggestions, relevancy ranked results powered by sophisticated algorithms, and facets such as topic, year, and type of policy to quickly and easily refine a search.

Policies are available as PDFs linked from search results, and the full text of each PDF is indexed and searchable too. If any search words are found in the full text, a snippet of the relevant passage showing the words in context is displayed in search results. The user may then click a single button to open the policy in their browser with their search words pre-highlighted, where ever they may appear in the document. This feature saves the user from having to download, open and search all over again within the PDF for the relevant passage.

The site is available in English and French - not only the user interface, but all the metadata and PDFs too - allowing users to search and fully interact with the site in either language.

Policies are managed in a DB/TextWorks database by CMA Library staff. 

Updating the CMA PolicyBase was long overdue. We needed to update the interface and functionality to make it more user friendly. While it seemed like an overwhelming task, Jonathan guided us through each step of the process.  We're really pleased with the end result, so much so that we're now converting other databases to the Andornot Discovery Interface.

-- Debbie Ayotte, Associate Director, Policy Research & Support, Canadian Medical Association

A separate Physician Workforce Survey search engine is available at https://surveys.cma.ca and is also powered by our Andornot Discovery Interface and hosted by Andornot.

Contact Andornot for information management and search solutions for your medical and other collections.

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