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The Cortes Island Museum & Archives preserves unique and original photographs, maps and documents relating to the human and natural history of Cortes Island, British Columbia, and nearby islands. Dating from the late 1800s to the present, their collections illustrate how this remote community of coastal British Columbia responded to changing economic, social and political conditions.

Thanks to a grant from Libraries and Archives Canada, the museum was able to digitize more than 4,000 historic photographs, catalogue them in a DB/TextWorks database using Andornot's Starter Kit for Archives, and then make them publicly searchable in a new site built from our Andornot Discovery Interface.

Cortes Island Museum and Archives

Available at https://collections.cortesmuseum.com, the rich variety of searchable images depicts island people and places, community events, transportation by steamship and floatplane, and economic activities such as farming, fishing and logging.

New users may explore the collection using pre-created searches, such as:

or may search with keywords and refine their results with facets such as names, places, topics and dates. The sophisticated search algorithms in the Andornot Discovery Interface present the most relevant results first. Users may save results to a list, share results and images on social media, and provide feedback to, or request more information from, the museum.

The site is hosted by Andornot with frequent updates by museum staff.

The S.J. McKee Archives at Brandon University houses a wide-ranging collection of unpublished archival records related to the history of Brandon College / Brandon University and the Manitoba Pool Elevators, as well as documenting the history of the City of Brandon and southwestern Manitoba.

A new search engine, based on our Andornot Discovery Interface is now available at https://archives.brandonu.ca. Features such as spelling corrections, relevancy-ranked results, and facets to refine searches, help users to quickly find resources of interest to them.

The site includes over 5,000 digitized photographs, as well records for the Brandon University Art Collection, with images to come for this collection. Oral history recordings will also be added in the future. Behind the scenes, these different types of collections or materials are managed in separate DB/TextWorks databases. This new search interface is thus a huge improvement allowing researchers to easily find all related materials with one search.

"I’ve received only positive feedback about the new interface. People seem to like the design, the simplicity, and the functionality of the site." – Christy Henry, University Archivist

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The LancasterHistory online Research Collections provides searchable access to nearly 300,000 items from their historic collections, from library books and archival documents to photographs and three-dimensional objects.

LancasterHistory is also proud to announce the launch of the James Buchanan Presidential Library, which provides online access, for the first time, to the papers of 15th United States President James Buchanan and his family.

This collection includes  more than 3,500 items associated with James Buchanan, Harriet Lane, and James Buchanan Henry, extended family members, associates, and Wheatland, Buchanan's home. Scholars and researchers can search and view the digitized collection to examine the events that transpired during Buchanan’s presidency and gain a better understanding of how the United States responded to one of the most fraught periods in American history.

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The LancasterHistory Research Collections site is powered by our Andornot Discovery Interface, which provides features such as automatic spelling corrections, intuitive search suggestions, and refinable search filters.

Data in the site is sourced and regularly updated from a variety of back-end systems: PastPerfect for archival descriptions, artifacts and photographs, and MARC records exported from their library’s cataloguing system. Andornot developed systems to transform each different data source into a common format and index it in our Andornot Discovery Interface, for searching across all collections, while still preserving the metadata unique to each record and data source.

The full text of many linked digital documents is indexed, to further expand search options.

Searching across all LancasterHistory collections previously required many separate searches, using different search strategies and tools. Now, with all resources in a single site, searching is faster and easier and reveals more records to users with every search.

As the site is hosted by Andornot, there’s nothing for LancasterHistory staff to do or worry about, and they can add new data as often as they like.

Visit the site at https://collections.lancasterhistory.org

As Archives and Museums have had to close due to COVID 19 or are operating with reduced hours and access, it has become more important than ever to maintain visibility and value by providing more resources and information online.

There are still some grants available to help with the cost, and reassuringly the LAC DHCP program funding for 2020-21 has gone through and we are working with recipients on their projects.  There is also a new initiative, the Canada Emergency Support Fund for Heritage Organizations from Heritage Canada which has a submission deadline of  September 1, 2020.   The BC Museums Association and similar organizations in other provinces, provide listings of grants that are available.  We can provide assistance with writing proposals to take advantage of these funding opportunities and always have suggestions for projects that might fit into a grant application, or be feasible if you have any budget available.

Many of the grants are for digitization initiatives as these are one of the best ways of ensuring better access to items in your collections.  As part of the digitization program there is often the option to enhance your web search interface, which is where we can help.  We can work with all sorts of data without necessarily changing your underlying workflow and have you up and running with a modern, very functional site very quickly.  For clients who already have at least part of their collections online using our systems, we are suggesting some relatively simple enhancements such as adding commenting to digitized photos to allow more community involvement.  Take a look at a typical record with comment from Bulkley Valley Museum or from La Société historique de Saint-Boniface.  All comments are moderated before they are displayed which does take some work, but it is also a good opportunity to connect directly with your users.

Another option that is popular with people stuck at home and looking for something useful and interesting to occupy them, is crowdsourcing the transcription of various historical documents. We recommend these be based around a theme such as World War I diaries, or letters from a particular fond or on a selected topic. We can set up a site  using From the Page software (https://fromthepage.com/) where clients can upload handwritten digital documents for transcribing.  Apparently there is a surge in interest in this type of project - see this recent article How to Help Librarians and Archivists From Your Living Room. If you’re cooped-up and curious, use your free time to decipher handwriting, tag images, and more.

If you already have digitized content which is not yet available online, we have various options that might not be as costly or as time consuming as you might think!   We can extract metadata from a file structure or we can index the full text of documents to provide search capabilities immediately.  Maybe items have already been digitized by someone else?  Have you looked in the Internet Archive for items relevant to your collection?  Many of these are available for non commercial use and can be incorporated into your own systems quickly and easily.  Or do you have data in other repositories or software that we can integrate to add value?

Please let us know if you might be interested in learning more, or have any other good ideas that we can help you with!

Every spring of Andornot's 25 year history, we pack our bags and our marketing materials and start travelling across the country to attend library, archival and museum conferences, to learn what's new, and to meet, greet and mingle with colleagues, clients and old friends. Like all of you, our suitcases are still in the closet, hoping for use again soon.

Despite the strange turn of events this year, we still believe strongly in the value of conferences and other professional development activities, and were pleased earlier this year to award our annual Professional Development Grant for 2020 to Lucie Handley-Girard, Archivist at The ArQuives, Canada's LGBTQ2+ Archives. Lucie had intended to use the grant to join us in Vancouver at the Association of Canadian Archivists’ annual conference. We hope that before too long, we can resume meeting you in person, and continue to sponsor conferences and other activities.

In the meantime, check out Lucie’s work on The ArQuives online collections at https://arquives.andornot.com

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