doctor’s visits, their illnesses, and, sadly, their deaths. Yes—you do become absorbed in the people, and losing one of them is like losing a relative or a friend.10 Next Steps In October, after volunteer transcriptionists had made short work of the original collection of 38 diaries, the project scope expanded to include 80 sets of letters containing over 5800 pages of correspondence. With this additional content, the newly renamed Civil War Diaries and Letters Transcription Project supplements the first-hand accounts of soldiers with those of their families and friends back home, allowing a much fuller view of life during the war. This winter, the project will expand further with the creation of the Crowdsourcing Collections @ Iowa gateway site, which will provide access to additional opportunities for users to help enhance the UI Libraries’ content. Next up is crowdsourcing transcription for items outside of the Civil War materials, including manuscript cookbooks from Special Collections, as well as 19th-century children’s diaries held in the UI’s Iowa Women’s Archives, and in a partner institution, the State Historical Society of Iowa. This spring, the libraries also plan to move a Flickr pilot into production to allow commenting and tagging for historic photographs harvested from the Iowa Digital Library, migrating the user-generated data from Flickr back to the metadata records into the Digital Library. This will follow similar workflows to those developed for the transcript project. Conclusion This success of the Civil War project not only confirmed public interest in such endeavors, but was evidence that crowdsourcing efforts can get off the ground without computer programmers, specialized software, or major grant funds. The highly mediated nature of our workflow can lead us to feel a little self-conscious when compared to some of the more high-tech efforts—Iowa’s transcription project runs on “peopleware” rather than software—but it makes sense for the institution. Overstaffed with talented, detail-oriented catalogers in technical services and understaffed in IT, Iowa adapted its crowdsourcing plans to fit, in order to “go to war with the army we’ve got.” In the battle for public engagement and value-added collections, the ends have more than justified the means. RLI 277 13 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
Previous Page Next Page