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The Galt Museum and Archives in Lethbridge, Alberta has launched a new search engine for their cultural collections at https://collections.galtmuseum.com 

This new site is powered by our Andornot Discovery Interface. This modern search engine provides features that users have come to expect, including spelling corrections, "did you mean" search suggestions, results ranked by relevancy, and facets to help narrow down the results further, such as by name, topic and date.

Previously, users were only able to search the archives, museum artifacts and library collections through three separate searches. Now, with the Andornot Discovery Interface, researchers can search all materials at once and discover related records quickly and easily. Over eighty percent of the resources in the site include photographs, especially of artifacts in the museum, making for a visually engaging experience researching the history of Lethbridge and surrounding area.

Once results are found, a user can save them for later review, share them on Pinterest, Google+ and other social media, or request more information from the museum and archives.

The graphic design of the site was adapted from the fonts, colours and layout of the main museum website, for a seamless transition between the two. The bright colours add to the fun factor when using the site, without detracting from the resources and the many historic photos in search results.

Like many museums and archives, the Galt has for many years managed their collections with Inmagic software. A series of DB/TextWorks databases continue to be home to metadata about the archives, museum artifacts, and a small library. The museum is running the latest version, so has access to many new features, but still within the familiar and easy-to-use interface they are used to.

"This is a big step forward in terms of both appeal and usability, and the integrated search -- across archives, collections and library databases -- is the feature that we long wished for."

Andrew Chernevych
Archivist, Galt Museum & Archives

Contact Andornot to discuss options for better management and searching of your cultural collections.

As the air gets crisper and precipitation drives us indoors, Fall is a great time to reflect and to find energy for new projects and adventures.

Have you thought about the web presence your museum, archive or library collection has? Are you providing users with modern tools to help them research your records and share them with others. Here are 10 ideas to read on a blustery Fall day, and that could add some sparkle to your website and online collections.

  1. Upgrade to a more modern search engine, such as our Andornot Discovery Interface, with features users expect when searching. For example, see how we helped Forestry Innovation Investment with their ThinkWood Research Library.
  2. Add ever more historic content to attract users interested in local history and genealogy, like the Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives did with back issues of the Arnprior Chronicle newspaper.
  3. Add a map interface so users can browse geographically, like the one we built for the Ontario Jewish Archives.
  4. Have lots of documents? Why not index the full text of them, then when a user searches for keywords, take them directly to the most relevant page in the PDF. No more downloading and repeating the search within the PDF to find the right page. Learn more.
  5. Get out in front of Community Engagement by adding the Disqus commenting system to your search results, so users can more easily discuss items in your collection, help identify people and places, and provide feedback to you.
  6. Make sure your website or search engine is mobile friendly. Google and other search engines now place mobile-friendly results higher in their rankings. And make sure you have a sitemap and permalinks so your collection can be easily indexed by Google and Bing.
  7. Planning to digitize large works, such as maps, paintings, or architectural drawings? Will users be able to see the fine detail in the resulting images on your website or in your search engine? Our Image Zoomer can help, by allowing users to easily zoom in on specific areas of a large image, without having to download that very large file.
  8. Is your website looking dated? Maybe it has the digital equivalent of large shoulder pads or flared pants? Time for a refresh? Let us help with a Content Management System and new graphic design, like we did recently for PRCVI (the BC Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired).
  9. Can't attract the attention of your own IT staff to help with your website or software? Why not have Andornot host it?
  10. On a tight budget? Consider our low-cost Digital History Hub platform for putting collections online and making virtual exhibits.

Contact us to discuss any of these ideas, and ones of your own.

Andornot has recently completed work for the Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives to add the newly digitized versions of their newspapers up to 1937 to their searchable collections. The majority of issues are from the Arnprior Chronicle starting in 1885.  We also created a Finding Aid allowing researchers to see what issues are available for each of the 16 newspapers with the ability to browse each individually. 

Funding for this project was provided by the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, and will be a wonderful new option for genealogical research as well as providing a window into the coverage of historical events. Individual names can be searched, and search words or parts of words are highlighted on the newspaper pages, as in the screenshot below:

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A search on a general term such as “sawmill” pulls results from several data sources and allows users to easily narrow down their results.

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As well as providing new search capabilities for this important set of documents, this initiative removes the need to consult the now very fragile originals.

The digitization itself was handled by a local vendor and Andornot scripted the OCR’ing to create a searchable layer in the PDF’s.  When funding permits, the aim is to enhance the search option further by matching up the newspaper issues with an index to births, marriages and deaths created by the Archives. 

If you are considering a similar digitization project, or have databases or other material that you would like to make searchable, contact us for a chat to discuss options!

Reams of websites and consultants offer search engine optimization (SEO) advice and services, to help people find your content and information.  However we’ve noticed that many of our clients are missing an obvious, no cost source of referral links that would help researchers find their sites.  Have you Googled your organization or the major subjects or people that are included in your collections?  Odds on Wikipedia will often be the first source listed in Google search results for people or place names. It therefore makes sense to make sure that your content and collections are findable through Wikipedia.    Don’t neglect this opportunity to promote your material to researchers who may be unaware of your existence, and to contribute back to the Wikipedia community.

As outlined below, Wikipedia is strictly non-commercial so we cannot add content for you.

“Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project supported by the Wikimedia Foundation and based on a model of openly editable content. Wikipedia is written collaboratively by largely anonymous volunteers who write without pay. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles, except in limited cases where editing is restricted to prevent disruption or vandalism. Users can contribute anonymously, under a pseudonym, or, if they choose to, with their real identity.”

We recommend you read the Guide to Contributing first before you get started.

  • Determine if there are any links from Wikipedia to your website. Go to https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:LinkSearch&target= and enter the URL of your site.
  • Check to see if your parent organization has a page. Maybe a link to your site or more information on the scope of your collection on their page would be adequate, and they can be asked to add this link for you.
  • Consider adding a link on existing Wikipedia entries for significant people, organizations or places that are well represented in your collection, and are therefore a useful source of information for researchers. If your collections management system offers permalinks, you can add the URL to a fonds level descriptive record or finding aid under either the External links or References section. This requires only minimal knowledge of the formatting in the wiki markup language.
  • Add a new page if nothing exists on a person or topic already.  You will need to check first that it meets the Wikipedia tests for notability, i.e. how the editors decide whether a given topic warrants its own article, and follow the content protocols and editing guidelines

To add more detailed content, check out the Wikipedia tutorial or watch their YouTube videos. There is also a useful video from the Archives Association of Ontario created specifically as an overview of the ways in which archivists can use Wikipedia to link to their online resources.  The page List of Archives in Canada shows how many of these archives do not yet have a specific entry. Check out the page for the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives for a good example to look at for possible content ideas.

Please contact us if you would like help with more general tips to help users find your content.

Library and Archives Canada has announced the launch of the 2018 funding cycle for the Documentary Heritage Communities Program (DHCP). This is the fourth year of a planned 5 year program, with $1.5 million available this year, as in previous rounds.

The DHCP provides financial assistance to the Canadian documentary heritage community for activities that:

  • increase access to, and awareness of, Canada’s local documentary heritage institutions and their holdings; and
  • increase the capacity of local documentary heritage institutions to better sustain and preserve Canada’s documentary heritage.

The deadline for submitting completed application packages is February 7, 2018. 

This program is a great opportunity for archives, museums, historical societies and other cultural institutions to digitize their collections, develop search engines and virtual exhibits, and other activities that preserve and promote their valuable resources.

The program is aimed at non-governmental organizations specifically, including:

  • Archives; 
  • Privately funded libraries; 
  • Historical societies;              
  • Genealogical organizations/societies;  
  • Professional Associations; and 
  • Museums with an archival component.

Businesses, government and government institution (including municipal governments and Crown Corporations), museums without archives, and universities and colleges are not eligible.

Types of projects which would be considered for funding include:

  • Conversion and digitization for access purposes; 
  • Conservation and preservation treatment; 
  • The development (research, design and production) of virtual and physical exhibitions, including travelling exhibits; 
  • Conversion and digitization for preservation purposes; 
  • Increased digital preservation capacity (excluding digital infrastructure related to day-to-day activities); 
  • Training and workshops that improve competencies and build capacity; and 
  • Development of standards, performance and other measurement activities. 
  • Collection, cataloguing and access based management; and 
  • Commemorative projects.

Further program details, requirements  and application procedures are available at http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/services/documentary-heritage-communities-program/Pages/dhcp-portal.aspx

How can Andornot help?

Many Andornot clients have obtained DHCP grants in previous rounds, and Andornot has worked on many other projects which would qualify for this grant. Some examples are detailed in these blog posts:

We have extensive experience with digitizing documents, books and audio and video materials, and developing systems to manage those collections and make them searchable or presented in virtual exhibits.

Contact us to discuss collections you have and ideas for proposals. We'll do our best to help you obtain funding from the DHCP program!

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