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British Library LibCrowds Spring Newsletter
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British Library LibCrowds Spring Newsletter

In this newsletter, we celebrate one of LibCrowd’s top contributors, provide an update on progress on Convert-a-Card and mention other crowdsourcing projects at the Library.

You're receiving this newsletter because you signed up for occasional updates from the British Library’s LibCrowds project, which launched in June 2015. Hopefully you’ll find this update on LibCrowds and other crowdsourcing projects at the British Library interesting, but it’s easy to unsubscribe below if you’ve changed your mind.

- Mia Ridge, Digital Curator, British Library

Celebrating our contributors: Bill McCloy

Alex Mendes got in touch with one of LibCrowds' top contributors to ask what inspired him to contribute to the Convert-a-Card project, first launched on the platform in 2015:

As a retired librarian specializing in East Asian language materials, I was intrigued when I saw the notice that the British Library had set up a series of Crowdsourcing projects as one method of making information about its unique and specialized resources available online to the general public.  In particular, the Chinese Pinyin project interested me, as I had been cataloging Chinese language library materials, inter alia, since 1972.  As a retiree, I also am at a point in my life where continuing to exercise my mind is as important as exercising my body to stave off the challenges of age-related decline.  And I have always regarded cataloging work – especially in foreign languages – as fun!  The project intrigued me because it is possible to do as much or as little work at any one sitting as I have time for at the moment.  Being part of a world-wide cooperative project is gratifying, and I enjoy checking my contributions against those of other project participants via the online graphs and maps.  The collections of the British Library are renowned throughout the world, and I am pleased to have made a small contribution to making them even more widely known.  And it was fun to come across titles for books I had cataloged or consulted many years ago – in my youth!
 
- Bill McCloy, East Asian Law Librarian (Retired), University of Washington, Seattle.
 

Sneak Preview

We're working on a series of projects that will help to transform the British Library's Playbills collection into a searchable database. You can help record the names of actors, producers and others to help researchers find playbills in our catalogue. At the same time you'll get a glimpse into how we entertained ourselves before television and the internet!

Alongside development of these new projects the whole Libcrowds platform is getting a much needed overhaul, with an updated theme and new features, such as results pages for each project series. This will help make the efforts of our volunteers instantly apparent.

Get in touch via crowdsourcing@bl.uk if you're interested in trying an early version of the interface and helping shape the project.

Crowdsourcing updates from around the Library

Working with Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technology


Over the past few months we have been using the Transkribus platform to transcribe manuscripts on botany from the East India Company records, and to develop a Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) model for nineteenth-century handwriting styles.

Transkribus is easy to install and use, and its four step process – identify text regions, lines and baselines, then transcribe – provides data for the project team to train HTR software how to 'read' handwriting. So far we have transcribed 700 pages of material relating to the establishment of botanic gardens in colonial India, and have seen positive results with the first HTR models.
Marked-up image (right) with transcription (left)
The Library has recently joined the READ network as a Memorandum of Understanding partner, and we look forward to sharing our data and experiences as we make further use of the tools.

An additional 1000 images will soon be added to our Transkribus botany collections, and we would welcome volunteers to help us with the ongoing transcription and the improvement of our HTR model.

 

- Alex Hailey

Updates from the Georeferencer project

 
Volunteers contributing to the British Library Georeferencer project continue to work their way through the large body of maps added from the 'BL 1 Million' images upload. The project is now over 52% complete with over 30,136 maps georeferenced. The Library has begun to ingest georeferencing data into catalogue records from this and previous batches of Georeferencer maps. Work began with colleagues from the library’s site at Boston Spa late in 2016 and the records went live in early 2017.

The result is that catalogue records have been updated with information submitted by volunteers, and new records have been created pointing to the digital version of maps found in printed books. The data provided by volunteers can be found by looking at the 'MARC display' link on catalogue records in Explore. The Library is grateful for all the work Georeferencer contributors have put into this project.

In other news, Georeferencer fans may have noticed that the Rumsey Map Center have updated their version of Georeferencer. While the Library will continue to use its current version of the Georeferencer in the immediate future we'd be pleased to hear your thoughts on using the new tools available on the Rumsey site.

- Phil Hatfield
We'd love to hear from you with any questions or comments on this newsletter or any of the crowdsourcing projects at the British Library. Just email crowdsourcing@bl.uk or tweet at @LibCrowds and we'll get back to you.
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