Since 1981, Milwaukee Irish Fest has brought three days of Irish music, dance, cultural exhibits, drama and sports to the city’s lakefront each summer.
For all 35 years of those years, the Ward Irish Music Archives (the educational arm of CelticMKE, the umbrella organization for Irish culture in Milwaukee) has collected the photos, videos, audio, brochures, tickets, and many other artifacts from Milwaukee Irish Fest. This archive of Irish festival history is unparalleled in the United States. Ward archivists are especially dedicated to the preservation of Irish and Irish-American music in all its forms.
They wanted to showcase the history of Milwaukee Irish Fest in an online collection of archival materials, which they had documented and stored digitally in their PastPerfect database.
They wanted to engage their website visitors with a highly visual and appealing design, without sacrificing the easy maintenance of data within PastPerfect.
Northwoods designed a customized website experience within Titan CMS and developed an Import/Export tool to feed data from PastPerfect into the website.
The website features a highly image-focused design with embedded videos, a robust search tool, and complete meta data of archival collections.
The vivid landing page presents users with the colorful official posters for each year of Irish fest. The poster images link to media-rich collections of artifacts from the festival of the corresponding year – an inviting way to draw users into the site.
Northwoods developed a user-friendly taxonomy, based on the fields within the PastPerfect database, for the collection. Northwoods information architects treated those fields as attributes, to help visitors locate artifacts by means of easy-to-use filters.
The detail page for each artifact includes a large image or embedded video/audio file, along with the meta data that corresponds to the meta data entered into PastPerfect.
Northwoods developed an Import/Export tool to ease maintenance of the user-friendly website by non-technical staff. Through this tool, Ward archivists can update and add to the collection right in PastPerfect and then easily display it on the website.
Step 1: Update a catalog record in PastPerfect. The example below is the catalog record for a photograph of the 1989 festival, featuring a currach race. (A currach is a traditional Irish boat made of animal skins stretched over a wooden frame.)
Step 2: Upload the image to the website server, via FTP or via manual upload into Titan’s File Pile.
Step 3: Use PastPerfect to export an xml version of the catalog record.
Step 4: Run the Import/Export tool to convert the PastPerfect data into fields and tags for the website.
Step 5: Upload the data into the website.
Done! The image now appears on the website.
This simple, five-step, repeatable process can update one record in PastPerfect or run on a schedule based on the organization’s timeline for updating data in PastPerfect. The flexibility allows users to choose when to update the website with the corresponding catalog records and data.
The Irish Fest Scrapbook website sets the bar for online digital archives and serves as a good example for displaying archival materials online. Since its launch in 2015, the website has attracted thousands of visitors. The unique design of the site and the hand-in-glove relationship of PastPerfect, with its excellent meta data, and the Titan CMS help visitors stroll down memory lane and relive favorite Milwaukee Irish Fest moments.
Originally Published: Tue, August 16, 2016