appeal. Curatorial staff requested that the Digital Library department investigate
options to develop such a project for the diaries, with the twin goals of
enhancing the data by enabling full-text search of the content, and engaging the
general public by allowing them to interact with the materials in new ways.
The results of initial investigations were not promising. No one in the UI
Libraries possessed the programming expertise to develop a software solution
from scratch. Systems staff were already so over-tasked with other library
initiatives that even implementing an open-source solution was out of the
question, and none of the cloud-based projects had yet emerged. Digital
initiatives librarians were ready to give up and wait a few years for the
technology to become more attainable when the libraries’ webmaster suggested
collecting submissions through the use of a web form. She wrote some simple
PHP code to generate a web page that pulls diary pages from CONTENTdm, the
asset management system used to host the digital collection; the page images are
paired with a text box for users to type in the transcriptions; and a submit button
sends an e-mail message to a departmental inbox. From there, a cataloging staff
RLI 277
11
Experimenting with Strategies for Crowdsourcing Manuscript Transcription
(
C O N T I N U E D
)
DECEMBER 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
University of Iowa Libraries’ Civil War Diaries & Letters Transcription Project, Transcriptionist Interface
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