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In this brief newsletter, we share progress reports for crowdsourcing projects at the British Library including In the Spotlight, Convert-a-card and Georeferencer and give you a special preview of a forthcoming project, Living with Machines.


Introducing… Living with Machines

A collaboration between the British Library and Alan Turing Institute with academic partners, the Living with Machines project aims to develop data science and digital history methods to use digitised collections at scale and rethink the impact of technology on the lives of ordinary people during the Industrial Revolution. Amongst other sources, our researchers are using millions of pages of digitised newspapers to shed new light on this period through a five year project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Because these collections are so vast, we need your help to discover personal stories about Britain’s industrial past. Specifically at this stage we'd like feedback from you, our newsletter subscribers, about the 'beta' task we're currently running on the Zooniverse platform. 


Please take a look at our site, try the task, and let us know how we might make it easier or more interesting: 


This first task is designed to help us understand what kinds of accidents happened in the workplace as machinery was introduced. We'll use the results to train machine learning software to find more articles about accidents, getting more value from each classification you do. The more you classify over the next few weeks, the more data our historians, curators and data scientists will have to work with in the new year.


If you have questions or notice something interesting, you can post on the project forum, or email us at


You can find out more about Living with Machines at

Playbills In the Spotlight

We're thrilled that over 70 projects have already been completed! Thank you to everyone who's transcribed or marked out a title, date or genre - you're helping enrich the British Library's collections while creating datasets for researchers.


We've added new volumes to keep you going over the Christmas/New Year break. At In the Spotlight, you can help make historic playbills findable for theatres including:  King's Lynn 1764-1772, Pittenweem - Sandwich 1777-1855 (Vol. 1 and 2), Waterford - Winchester 1787-1852, Theatre Royal, York 1782-1849, miscellaneous theatres: Nottingham - Oswestry 1755-1848, New Theatre Royal, Hull 1810-1811.

Header from playbill, Theatre-Royal, Dublin


Dr Gethin Rees writes: You may have noticed some changes to the Georeferencer platform in recent weeks. We are currently in the midst of an upgrade and will have some exciting new maps up in 2020! Keep your eyes on in the new year for updates.


Dr Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert writes: Our curators were thrilled to have thousands more records available in our online catalogue, thanks to Convert-a-Card contributors. These records about printed books from our Asian & African collections were only discoverable by browsing through the physical drawers in the Reading Room until Convert-a-Card came along.


Contributors have worked so far on Pinyin (Chinese), Urdu and Indonesian records. Crowdsourcing for drawers 1-4 of the Pinyin cards has been completed, and drawer 5 is live on the platform (currently at 65% progress). Three drawers of the Indonesian card catalogue were completed, and one drawer of the Urdu cards. The second Urdu drawer task is ongoing with 69% already done. For more information about these card catalogues, see here: 


What an impact our contributors have made so far on current and future research at the Library. However, we still have tens and thousands of catalogue cards waiting to be matched with electronic records. We need to address a couple of technical issues on the platform before adding some new drawers, so watch this space!


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.

Thank you!

We've made great progress thanks to over 2060 registered volunteers (and many others who didn't need to register) who've made nearly 138,000 contributions to more than 100 projects on In the Spotlight and Convert-a-Card on the LibCrowds platform. While our Living with Machines task is still only in beta, we've delighted to have over 3,100 classifications to date.


WIth best wishes for the holiday season and the year to come,





Dr. Mia Ridge

Digital Curator, British Library

Copyright © 2019 LibCrowds, All rights reserved.

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