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We hope this finds you and your communities well.

In this Spring 2020 newsletter, we thank our online contributors, share news of an exciting research project, provide progress reports for various projects, and introduce one of our contributors.

Wow! Thanks to all our contributors

At the time of writing, the number of all-time contributions on the LibCrowds platform has reached over 176,000 contributions from over 2400 registered volunteers. You've also helped us reach a new milestone, with tasks on over 100 volumes of playbills completed for In the Spotlight. Our two tasks on the Zooniverse platform for the Living with Machines project were completed in early March and the data is being prepared for analysis.

Thank you for all your help! If you've done even one task on one of our projects lately, you're part of a truly international movement that stretches from Gaborone to Auckland to Moscow to London. We can't thank you enough for the time and effort you've put into helping researchers and making historical collections more accessible.

Playbills In the Spotlight

In the Spotlight broke records recently, with over 3000 contributions in a single day and 10,000 in a week. We hope you've enjoyed contributing to the project - we certainly enjoy reading your comments on tasks. Volunteer comments have led to some great forum discussions, such as Typography in Playbills and Early Copyright Law.

If you haven't caught up with our Twitter feed lately, you can see some highlights at - you don't need an account to view the page. If you are on Twitter, we'd love to hear from you - do say hi to @LibCrowds.

The backend of the LibCrowds platform has been given a bit of a refresh, including a tweak to the tagging function that lets you add keywords to collect playbills you might want to return to after completing a task. We're grateful to King's Digital Lab and the Library's own Harry Moss for their behind-the-scenes work.

Christian Algar, Curator of Printed Heritage Collections, has written two blog posts that might be of interest,  “List Ye Landsmen all to me” about Nautical Drama on Playbills and Colossal characters of the first Spring Holiday.



Dr Gethin Rees, Lead Curator for Digital Map Collections, writes:

'The British Library's Georeferencer project has been upgraded with a lovely new user interface and there are still more than 5000 maps from the Flickr collection to be georeferenced. Georeferencing is a fun way to while away some of the free hours and is tremendously worthwhile activity for the British Library and beyond. The resulting maps help improve the British Library's catalogue records and are invaluable to projects like Layers of London and Living with Machines.'

Find out more - and view some interesting transport maps - in Gethin's post on 'Georeferencing through Self-isolation.'

You can also view georeferenced maps worldwide or dive in and georeference some old maps at

AHRC grant to capture 'Collective Wisdom'

Earlier this year, the British Library's Digital Curator for Western Heritage Collections, Dr Mia Ridge (that's me!), Dr Meghan Ferriter (Library of Congress) and Dr Sam Blickhan (Zooniverse) were awarded an AHRC UK-US Partnership Development Grant for a project called 'From crowdsourcing to digitally-enabled participation: the state of the art in collaboration, access, and inclusion for cultural heritage institutions'. The project was set up to collaboratively write a book about crowdsourcing in cultural heritage, share knowledge about crowdsourcing and digitally-enabled participation, and set a research agenda for unsolved or tricky problems that could lead to future funding applications. 


Like so much else, the project has had to adapt, postponing the 'book sprint' and working online for now. If you're interested in these topics, you can join in the discussion on the Humanities Commons Crowdsourcing group. Whether you're an academic, a cultural heritage practitioner or an online volunteer - all constructive questions and comments are welcome. We'll post updates on this exciting research project as we continue.

Celebrating our contributors 

We love hearing from people who contribute to our projects so I'm delighted to close with Jim Kelly's introduction. He tells us about himself, his work in libraries and other volunteer activities:

'I'm Jim Kelly, a Humanities Research Services Librarian at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst. I'm nearing retirement (30 June 2020) and found your call for contributors to "In the Spotlight" in my search for interesting projects to keep me busy once the current daily routine ceases. I've begun sending in work, but I plan to increase the volume come 1 July. 

In my 46 years of library service, I've spent about 40% in cataloging and about 60% in collection development, reference, and library instruction. Prior to my present job, I've worked at George Washington University, the University of Maryland College Park, the University of Texas at Austin, and the College of William and Mary. I've also taught library science courses at Simmons University and the University of Rhode Island. 

I'm very much involved with book history and the work of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing for whom I've served as archivist and was co-organizer of the 2019 annual conference held in Amherst in July. Lastly, I've been a volunteer field bibliographer for the Modern Language Association's International Bibliography for 40 years and have also served as an indexer and Co-North American Editor for the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature. 

I'm very much looking forward to immersing myself in this work as my retirement approaches and to taking part in any other projects for which you're seeking volunteers with my education and library training.'


New! The Endangered Archives Programme has Siberian Photographs (Late 19th / Early 20th century) to tag


The Endangered Archives Programme has recently launched its very first crowdsourcing project. Via the Zooniverse platform, contributors are asked to tag individual photographs with any keywords someone might use to find that image in a Google search. This will help make this rich collection of digitised photographs much more findable. Indeed, simply launching this project has piqued the interest of several ethnographic and archaeological researchers.


The response to the crowdsourcing task has been fantastic with almost 3,000 classifications in just over two weeks. But there are many more amazing images still to classify, so please share widely or get involved yourself:

We'd love to hear from you

We love hearing from researchers and contributors. If you'd like to be featured in an upcoming newsletter or send other feedback, get in touch via email (, on the LibCrowds forum or on twitter @LibCrowds.


Finally, if you've enjoyed any of our projects, then please help spread the word by sharing links to your favourite crowdsourcing projects on social media.


With best wishes,





Dr. Mia Ridge

Digital Curator, British Library

Copyright © 2020 LibCrowds, All rights reserved.

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