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at home and looking for something useful and interesting to occupy them, is crowdsourcing the transcription of various historical documents.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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add a map interface so users can browse geographically, like the one we built for the Ontario Jewish Archives.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Can't attract the attention of your own IT staff to help with your website or software? Why not have Andornot host it?
- 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.
St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, Ontario recently asked Andornot to help upgrade the presentation of its online archival collections. The collection includes digitized photographs, school yearbooks and alumni magazines dating back to the school’s first years in the 1900s. The upgraded site provides alumni and others with a fascinating journey through the school’s history. Alumni may now browse and search very easily for memories of their time at SAC.
Andornot upgraded the SAC archives’ DB/TextWorks database to the latest version of our Archives Starter Kit, upgrading the desktop forms and query screens as well as the web application. Some highlights of the new website include:
- Social bookmarking and permalinks allow users to share records with friends via email, Facebook, Twitter and other online services.
- Results may be viewed in a gallery-style grid layout or in a more traditional list, as well as sorted by relevance, title and date.
- The website features the front cover image of yearbooks and alumni magazines; however, the full contents have been digitized and are hosted by the Internet Archive. Search results provide links to view content in various formats, including PDF and as an online flipbook. See, for example, this record: http://archives.sac.on.ca/permalink/925 and its View Online Flipbook link.
- The photo commenting feature allows users to identify students and others in photographs. Users can circle individual people or faces in a photograph and provide the name or other comments for that person. Comments are emailed to the school archivist for review and to update records.
- Thumbnails and enlarged images are generated dynamically from a single master image.
- The selection list allows users to save or print the list, as well as to mark records of interest to email to themselves or to friends. In the future, users may be able to order reprints of photographs online.
- The new website layout complements the school website for a seamless transition from one web application to another.
Andornot created many of the archival records from a data conversion: SAC had digitized thousands of photographs, all saved to DVD. Andornot took those image files, extracted identifying information such as name and dates, and used that information to create initial records. This saved considerable time compared with manual database entry for each record. The College archivist will enhance the records further with names and other identifying information, in part from comments received through the photo commenting feature.
Search the archives here.
Contact Andornot to learn about upgrading your school’s online archives or photograph collection to a similar level.