Tag Archives: website

Under the Bonnet of the BPMA’s Online Catalogue

Here at the BPMA we’re making major changes to the way our online catalogue looks – and works. There will be more details soon, but today I’ll show you three of our planned improvements:

1. Streamlined Catalogue Data

Matt's been working with two different versions of our catalogue database at once, to help get it ready for its new-look relaunch.

Matt’s been working with two different versions of our catalogue database at once, to help get it ready for its new-look relaunch.

Since February I’ve been fine-tuning the data and structure of the entire BPMA catalogue. I’ve refined old catalogue entries to bring them into line with our current descriptive standards. I’ve rearranged fields to free up space for exciting new content. And I’ve reformatted the way the date is written for every single record in the catalogue. That’s over 120,000 records. I had to use lots of computer tricks to make all these changes in just a few weeks, rather than editing the records one by one. A career in archives can be a really good test of your IT skills!

2. Enhanced Thumbnail Images

We're enlarging all our catalogue thumbnail images by up to 400% to bring you a better experience when using our online catalogue.

We’re enlarging all our catalogue thumbnail images by up to 400% to bring you a better experience when using our online catalogue.

About 25,000 entries in the catalogue have thumbnails: small photos or scans showing you what the object or record looks like. In 2014 there are more high-resolution computer screens and faster Internet speeds than even a few years ago. We want our online catalogue to have larger, brighter thumbnails than we’ve used until now. Web visitors will be able to see our collections in even more detail.

I’ve been hunting down every digital image of the BPMA’s collections, converting them into new thumbnails at a higher resolution and an increased size.  Wherever possible, our new images will be 700 pixels wide on their shorter side. In the past six weeks I’ve created thumbnails for 22,000 objects and records. Only a few thousand left to go!

3. Improved Online Experience

A sneak preview of the new browser panel from our online catalogue (layout subject to change). Each line is a link to a different level of the hierarchy.

A sneak preview of the new browser panel from our online catalogue (layout subject to change). Each line is a link to a different level of the hierarchy.

We’re currently finalising the new online catalogue interface. It’ll offer new ways to navigate our collections, including user tagging, and sorting search results by different criteria. You should also be able to browse the entire Archive by its hierarchy (example shown above), which will show how any one record relates to all the others. There’ll be all-new guidance pages for first-time users, which I’m writing this week.

This is my final blog post here, as I’m leaving the BPMA at the end of May. It’s a privilege to have been part of the BPMA’s amazing work.

–  Matt Tantony, Archivist (Catalogue Systems)

We want your views

Do you like what we’re doing on our website, online catalogue, podcast, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and this blog? Is there something you’d like us to do online in the future?

We’re conducting an online survey of our audiences which will help us improve our services. Those who complete the survey will go into the draw to win a voucher from Amazon worth £50.

Man writing at desk (POST 118/5388)

Man writing at desk (POST 118/5388)

Take the survey at www.postalheritage.org.uk/survey. The survey closes 19 September 2011.

Our new website launches

Our new website is now live at www.postalheritage.org.uk. The new website, designed by Mind Unit, boasts a new, more attractive design, and improved presentation of text and images. Content from the old website has been revised, and there are a number of new webpages to discover.

Image Galleries

Many pages on the new website include galleries which offer large display of images. Look out for pages which have square images at the bottom.

Click on any square image to see that image pop-out and appear in full.

Scrolling through image galleries is easy. Move your mouse over the image to reveal the PREV and NEXT buttons. Click these buttons to see the previous or next image in the gallery.

The Collections & Catalogue section of the website boasts a number of pages featuring image galleries. Philatelists and postal historians can view unique stamp artwork and postal markings from our collection in the Stamps & Philately section.

Many of our Online Exhibitions (find these in the Exhibitions & Events section of the website) make use of image galleries too. The Designs on Delivery online exhibition displays a number of GPO posters from 1930-1960 in this way.

British Postal History

A number of articles about aspects of our collection are available in the British Postal History section (under the History & Learning heading). Written by our archivists, curators, cataloguers and expert volunteers, these articles cover topics as diverse as Stamp Design, Internal Postage & Parcel Rates, The Great Train Robbery and Uniforms.

The Uniforms article includes a separate image gallery displaying a variety of illustrations, photographs, coats and hats from our collection.

Online Catalogue

As before, you can still search our Catalogue online. With over 95,000 records available there’s bound to be something of interest. Click the Online Catalogue button on the Collections & Catalogue page to start searching.

The Collections & Catalogue section also allows you to browse a number of topic areas and view selected examples from our collections.

Share the Website

Want to share something you’ve seen on the new BPMA website? Click on the “Forward To A Friend” button (in the menu on the right) to e-mail the page to a contact, or share the page with friends on Facebook, Twitter or Buzz using the buttons at the bottom of the page.

Future Development

Web technology changes rapidly – and your expectations do too! We’d like to hear your thoughts on how we can make the BPMA website even better.

At the bottom of each page on our website you will find a link to our Site Feedback Form. This easy-to-use form allows you to send your comments to us at any time.

Finally, we’d like to thank those of you who participated in our user testing programme. We received some extremely helpful feedback which will guide the website’s future development.