The Manitoba Law Library has launched a new online catalogue featuring not only their print and electronic library resources, but a collection of over 17,500 judgments from Manitoba courts spanning 1970 to 1998.
While Manitoba judgments made since 1998 are already available digitally in CANLII, the historic judgments in this collection were not previously available online or in any electronic form. Law Library staff scanned print copies of these judgments, then turned to Andornot to create a search engine for the collection.
"The Great Library has long been known to have this "secret" database of unreported judgments. Our goal was to make this collection available to everyone who wanted it, and to be able to retrieve it themselves."
-- Karen Sawatzky, Director of Legal Resources, Manitoba Law Library Inc.
Andornot created a DB/TextWorks database of judgment records out of a combination of a spreadsheet of metadata, listings of the scanned judgment PDF files on disk, and custom programming to extract additional metadata, such as Court Name, from acronyms in an Accession Number.
As the scanned print copies had not yet been OCRd to convert the images to text, we ran a process to do so for all 17,500 files. This allows the full text of the judgment to be indexed and made searchable in the new site.
This Judgments database, along with a library catalogue database also now managed with DB/TextWorks, is indexed in the https://catalog.lawlibrary.ca site.
This new site offers users the features they expect from library catalogues and all search engines: spelling corrections, "did you mean" search suggestions, relevancy ranked results powered by sophisticated algorithms, and facets such as subject, name, date and type of material to quickly and easily refine a search. When searching the historic judgments, users can also refine their search by Court.
If any search words were found in the full text of a judgment, a snippet of the relevant passage showing the words in context is display in search results. The user may then click a single button to open the judgment in their browser, showing the original scanned document, but 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.
"We wanted to make it easier for our users to find material, whether it is an e-book, a print book, or a report, as well as upgrade the look and feel of our catalog. This system also allows us to create useful reports that help us demonstrate the value of our collection."
-- Karen Sawatzky
Contact Andornot for information management and search solutions for your legal or unique collections.