Posts Tagged ‘OpenSearch’

How to allow CAN to OpenSearch an online collection using an RSS feed

If your collection is set up to be searched on your own website, it can just take one day of coding to prepare for it to be searched from CAN.  Making a collection searchable using OpenSearch has the potential to broaden your exposure significantly when your collection is being searched on an national collection database. The following instructions on how to build an RSS feed can also be downloaded from Sector Resources.

Making an RSS feed that will hook into CAN is very easy to provide if you have a search already working on your website. All that is necessary is the duplication of the page that performs the search on the website and adjusting it so that rather than providing the output of the search results wrapped in HTML the output of the results wraps them in XML instead.



It may be helpful to examine the XML of the feed that the Powerhouse Museum sends to CAN – this is visible here:

http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/opensearch/search.php?s=chair&start=1

Where ‘chair’ is the search term and the start = 1 parameter is the page number (currently set to send 50 at a time, I think). If you do this in Firefox and view the source you can see the structuring of the result set we would be expecting at the CAN end.

Basically each result set has an item with a: “title”, “description”, “link”, and unique “guid” (which are actually the same in the Powerhouse Museum’s case) and then we use an “enclosure” tag to send a thumbnail link (URL).

And that’s it – pretty easy – most people have been able to spend only a day or two getting it going provided they already have a working search.

If CAN Partners are interested in providing more than the four basic pieces of data (title/description/link/unique GUID) + enclosure tag (link to thumbnail) CAN is more than happy to accommodate that data. For example, PictureAustralia has “categories” and “rights” data, and the State Records of NSW has “series” and “agency” data. Ideally CAN is supplied with a list of other metadata tags by the CAN Partner to extend the standard use of OpenSearch. As long as that extra data is supplied in standard XML in the RSS feed, CAN will look incorporating it in its OpenSearch.

Email us if you need any more information.

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CAN memory sticks at the MA conference

CAN is giving away USB sticks at the Museums Australia conference this week with instructions on how to upload heritage collections to our database. The memory stick is divided into an E-drive and an F-drive. The F-drive is a read-only drive with three pdf documents on it explaining the simple process.

The files are called:
1) MA Conference 2009 which outlines how to update your organisation’s content on CAN and how to make your collection accessible through CAN Collections.
2) CAN Collections Database Registration Form.
3) CAN Collections Upload System explained.

The E-drive is a read / write drive where you can store your own material.

CAN is working hard to unite Australia’s heritage collections in its database. The National Museum of Australia has just joined the Powerhouse Museum, Museum Victoria, State Records of NSW, Picture Australia and several other institutions in making its collection available to be searched live through CAN. This is an extremely simple process. There is no reason why an organisation with its collection online should not already be part of CAN’s OpenSearch.

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Search the National Museum of Australia collection live on CAN

You can now search the National Museum of Australia collection on CAN’s online database. This is particularly exciting news because the searches are live using RSS feeds, otherwise known as OpenSearch. This means as the NMA add images into its collection management system EMU, they are immediately searchable on CAN. Curators and the public can feel safe in knowing that when records are updated in EMU, the changes are immediately available to the public.

The NMA has made 25,000 objects from 1003 collections accessible on its Online Public Access Catalogue. Several teams are working hard to make the other 90% of its collection available. They are using the Powerhouse Museum’s object thesaurus to facilitate an easier search for specific items. This thesaurus will be available on the CAN website. CAN already offers links to other thesaurus standards.

NMA collection information and digitisation manager Helen Ludellen stresses the importance of knowing how to search effectively and how to refine a search. She suggests people should use single quotes for two co-located words to pull-up both of their search terms.

CAN is participating in a Federated Open Search Project that aims to allow the public to search collection records from libraries, galleries, museums and archives all across Australia through a single search.
George Serras.
Captain James Cook’s magnifier from the Australian Journeys exhibition at the NMA. Photo: George Serras

CAN has been an early implementor of the OpenSearch. Our current strategy is to host collection data for smaller institutions on our central database, while supporting distributed search access to larger institutions using the OpenSearch protocol.

As a result of these developments, it is now possible for anyone to search across the central CAN database, the Powerhouse Museum, Museum Victoria, Picture Australia, Libraries Australia, State Records of NSW and now the NMA in a single search. Furthermore, as larger museums, archives, libraries and galleries implement the OpenSearch protocol in their collection management systems, it should progressively become possible for anyone to search across the entire community of Australian collecting institutions.

The OpenSearch protocol is relatively easy to implement and provides a simple keyword search that can be applied to discovery services in any sector including government and universities, as well as subject-related search services in a broad range of areas including health, scientific and statistical information.

CAN’s online collection database is a current and reliable resource for researchers, cultural institutions, curators and the general public.

Sarah Rhodes

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