We hope this finds you and your communities well.
This Volunteers Week we want to say a great big heartfelt Thank You! We appreciate all you've done to help make library collections more discoverable, and all the insights and questions you've shared along the way.
We've mentioned the Collective Wisdom project in previous newsletters, and our last newsletter asked for your input as volunteers or stakeholders in crowdsourcing projects. We shared the results of those surveys on our website at the start of March. Thank you again to anyone who took the time to share your experience with us.
In March and April we also held in our 'book sprint' to write our book - and now the first version of The Collective Wisdom Handbook: Perspectives on Crowdsourcing in Cultural Heritage is available to read online!
We're also asking for comment from people with expertise and experience in the topics we cover, from crowdsourcing to citizen science and history, to online volunteering and digital engagement with museum, library and archive collections. Your knowledge might be drawn from academic practice, from volunteering as a crowdsourcing participant, or from helping run, develop, or analyse outcomes of participatory projects. If you're reading this newsletter, you probably fit into one or more of those groups.
We'd love you to suggest example projects, case studies, blog posts and publications that would strengthen the book. You can comment on specific text, or on a document as a whole after creating a free pubpub account. We've also posted about why we're asking for 'peer review' from our community, and what we hope it might yield. The review period for this publication will close on August 9, 2021 so please do share your thoughts on https://britishlibrary.pubpub.org/ before then.
Dr. Gethin Rees writes: The Georeferencer project has now provided geospatial data for over 63,900 digitised images of maps in the British Library’s collections. The resulting data has been used to enrich the library’s catalogue as well as helping several research projects including forming the basis of machine learning applications for the Living with Machines project and base mapping for Layers of London. Read more about the latter at Goad Maps on Layers of London.
Celebrating In the Spotlight
Our historical playbills project has been quiet lately, but we haven't forgotten our wonderful volunteers!
At the time of writing, the project has over 2,800 registered volunteers (and countless others who contributed without registering) who have made over a quarter of a million contributions to 171 projects. Crowdsourced data continues to be integrated into the British Library's viewer to help make individual playbills more discoverable, and all the project data is available for download for use by researchers.
We're (still) completely out of playbills to work on, but we're looking into options to make it easier to maintain the supply of items into the project.
Celebrating Two Centuries of Indian Print
In 2021 our ‘Two Centuries of Indian Print’ project collaborated with the West Bengal Wikimedians User Group to run a Wikisource competition in which volunteers proofread automatically transcribed text (OCR) from our collection of digitised Bengali books. The competition saw 17 volunteers, most of whom were based in India, fully correct the text of 20 books. More than 2,500 pages of transcriptions were produced.
Project preview: Agents of Enslavement? Colonial newspapers in the Caribbean and hidden genealogies of the enslaved
Agents of Enslavement? is a brand new project that will hopefully be launched later this month. It seeks to explore the ways in which colonial newspapers in the Caribbean facilitated and challenged the practice of slavery. It also seeks to identify the networks and voices of enslaved people hidden within these newspapers.
The project is focused on two collections of newspapers digitised by EAP project teams in Barbados, dated 1783-1861. These two collections cover the period of two landmark legal acts: the abolition of the trade of enslaved people in 1807 and the abolition of slavery in 1834.
The creation of crowdsourced datasets will be integral to this research project. The first task will ask volunteers to identify and draw rectangles around specific types of advert. Meanwhile subsequent tasks will ask volunteers to transcribe key information such as names and ages of enslaved people, and to classify articles as either pro- or anti-slavery.
The project is led by Dr Graham Jevon of the Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) who has been appointed as a British Library Coleridge Fellow for 2021.
Graham will be launching Agents of Enslavement? on Zooniverse soon so please look out for details in the coming weeks via the EAP blog or follow @BL_EAP or @LibCrowds on twitter.
With best wishes, and our thanks again,
Dr. Mia Ridge
Digital Curator, British Library