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The Glengarry County Archives is the largest repository of historical records in eastern Ontario and contains the foremost collection of history about Glengarry County found anywhere.

Incorporated as a municipal corporation in 2013, the archives is the official repository for the records of the Townships of North and South Glengarry municipal governments and is mandated to preserve the records of individuals, businesses and organizations from the settlement period to the present.

In recent years, back issues of two local newspapers were digitized, and are now fully searchable using an instance of our Andornot Discovery Interface. The site is available at https://newspapers.glengarrycountyarchives.ca and includes issues of The Glengarry News from 1892 to 2020 and The Glengarrian from 1887 to 1910.

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Users may search for people, places and events from years past right up to almost the present day. When opening the newspaper issue, search words are highlighted where they appear on each page, to help a user more easily find articles relevant to their search.

Unlike so many of our projects, this site has no database behind the scenes. Rather, the thousands of PDF files are well organized into folders, and the folders and PDF file names convey meaningful information, such as the name of the newspaper and its issue date. From this we are able to construct the metadata you see in search results. Primarily, though, the intention is to provide the best possible full-text search experience of the many articles in each issue.

The site and all newspaper issues are hosted by Andornot.

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Andornot has designed and developed search engine and information management solutions since 1995, and has used primarily discovery interface style tools for the past decade. We’ve provided our own Andornot Discovery Interface (AnDI) to many of our clients, and watched and learned from their questions and uses of the application

Over this decade of development, we’ve added many new features to individual AnDI sites, either at the request of clients, or based on our own observations and learning, as well as taking into consideration ever-evolving best practices in usability, accessibility and web design and development.

In 2020, we embarked on a project to take the best features and enhancements and roll them all up into a new version of AnDI. This version is now ready for use, both to upgrade existing AnDI sites and for all new ones.

With many software products that evolve over time, as more and more features are added, they sometimes become bloated and confusing. More is not necessarily better and it’s always been our intention to adhere to the Don't Make Me Think principle. So a user should not need to read search tips or help pages to use a tool and find what they are looking for, and should be able to understand the entire screen at a glance, without having to pause to decipher complex options.

This PDF describes some of the most significant enhancements in the latest version of AnDI, which complement the core features that have made AnDI such a powerful search engine. Sites built from the latest version will be added to our online Project Portfolio as they launch; however, many of the sites in this portfolio already have some of these features, so check them out in the example sites given below. Be sure to ask us about any features not listed here that may already exist or could be developed for you.

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The representation of people and places with Indigenous names is an ever more important topic in Canada. For many years, such names were Anglicized and represented using only letters from the Latin alphabet, such as these names of First Nations:

  • Musqueam
  • Tseshaht
  • Squamish

For some time, there has been a movement to represent these names in syllabic or phonetic characters. For example:

  • xʷməθkʷəy̓əm
  • c̓išaaʔatḥ
  • Sḵwx̱wú7mesh

For our DB/TextWorks clients, this poses a challenge. DB/TextWorks does not use Unicode to store data, so cannot natively store the syllabic characters, only those from Latin alphabets. 

However, our Andornot Discovery Interface has no trouble displaying characters from any character set, so can display Indigenous names and places in this more respectful manner, and also optionally still display the Anglicized or Romanized versions too.

The approach we’ve come up with for clients who use both DB/TextWorks and our Andornot Discovery Interface is:

1. Anglicized names only will still be entered in DB/TextWorks records. 

2. When those records are indexed in the Andornot Discovery Interface, the indexing process will look for these Anglicized indigenous names and places in some or all fields in the data, using a pre-created list of such terms. When found, the Anglicized term will either be replaced with the term using syllabics, or appended. For example, the end result could be:

  • xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam)
  • c̓išaaʔatḥ (Tseshaht)
  • Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish)

This can be done in subject headings, place names, and large passages of text too.

We hope also to improve searching of these terms using the syllabic characters. Currently a user would be able to enter the entire term and find it (e.g. xʷməθkʷəy̓əm)  but we hope to also offer some or all of the search features that make the Andornot Discovery Interface so useful, such as stemming and wildcards and relevancy scores based on these terms. We’ll be working on this second step in the coming months. Contact us if this approach would be of use to you.

 

Over the years, Andornot has used a variety of tools to track usage of software we host or provide to clients, to summarize activity and provide insight into the interests and actions of users. Currently we recommend Google Analytics and have recently added more tracking ability to our Andornot Discovery Interface (AnDI). 

We’re now able to cause Google Analytics to track the following:

  1. Overall site traffic, where visitors are from, how long they stay, how they found the site, whether they are using a desktop or mobile browser, and other general information. This is useful in several ways, but especially if you promote the site in some way, and want to see if that promotion affects traffic, or how people use the site.
  2. The words or phrases users start searches with. This is invaluable in seeing what is of interest to your users.
  3. Searches that result in no records found. This is also very helpful in guiding acquisitions or digitization to meet user interests, but also in seeing the terms users think to search with versus language used in your records. AnDI has a synonym list so this data can be used to then populate that list to better help users, as well as to guide your cataloguing or descriptive practices.
  4. Media such as PDFs, images, videos, and URLs to other resources, that a user clicks. This is a great way to gauge which of these media are of specific interest.
  5. Records added to the selection list feature. We consider this an excellent metric of which records are of most interest to your users.
  6. A count of emails sent from the selection list, as well as requests submitted via the request form, if applicable to your AnDI. Useful just as a general count and to see changes over time.

The above data can be summarized in a custom dashboard for a quick summary, with links to more detailed reports. This dashboard can be sent as a PDF in a periodic email, such as weekly or monthly, to save logging in to Google Analytics.

All of the above is included in every new AnDI site we build, but we may also be able to add it to existing AnDI sites as well. Please contact us if you’d like this done for your site, or if you have other specific information you’d like to try to gather from your site and users.

In 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic well underway, a partnership of four Saskatchewan health organizations formed a COVID-19 Evidence Support Team (CEST) to initiate a new learning health cycle in response to the pandemic.

The CEST initiative had three key objectives:

  1. the rapid production of the best evidence for facilitating COVID-related decision-making,
  2. the establishment of a single electronic platform (a database, dashboard, and repository) for systematic sharing of the updated COVID-19 reviews, and
  3. the initiation of a Learning Health System by constant exchange between reliable evidence, policy, and practice.

One of Andornot’s core strengths is mixing and matching systems and data into a solution that meets the needs of our clients and their budgets. For this project, we assisted the Saskatchewan Health Authority Library in achieving CEST's goals by providing:

  1. DB/TextWorks software for managing research requests and evidence reviews in databases;
  2. scripts to fetch research requests submitted to a third party system (Redcap);
  3. a search engine based on our Andornot Discovery Interface (AnDI);
  4. data generation for display in a dashboard-style summary; and
  5. hosting of these components in our Canadian data centre.

This combination of tools provides a complete information management and search system for COVID-19 rapid evidence reviews.

AnDI Search Site

https://covid19evidencereviews.saskhealthauthority.ca

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Dashboard

https://saskhealthauthority.libguides.com/covid-19/repository/home

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More information on this project:

COVID-19 Evidence Support for Saskatchewan Pandemic Response Poster Presentation

An article Developing a rapid evidence response to COVID-19: the collaborative approach of Saskatchewan, Canada published online in Learning Health Systems. 

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