Crowdsourcing Digitization: Harnessing Workflows to Increase Output
Gueguen, Gretchen; Hanlon, Ann M.
Are the highly selective models of digital content creation satisfying user demands for increasing access to our vast collection holdings? In this era of decreasing library budgets and increasing responsibilities, is such a level of staffing possible at any but the well-funded libraries? As a recent article in the New York Times estimated, it would take 1,800 years for the National Archives to digitize its text holdings at the current rate of digitization1. Since November 2005, the University of Maryland libraries has engaged in another model for digitization: a workflow model that harnesses the digitization already being done by archivists and other staff for requests by patrons. By "crowdsourcing" selection decisions in this way the libraries have built a collection of over 5,000 objects from the holdings of the University Archives and Historical Manuscripts. This model is based on two main principles: Selection: As one part of a programmatic approach to digitization, selections are based on user request and added to the publicly accessible digital repository Image capture: Digitization itself proceeds on the premise that creating useful surrogates is more important than digital reformatting. The path to a successful workflow is fraught with perils, though. The presenters will discuss the issues that have proven most effective and most difficult in the large-scale digitization workflow in place at UM. They will highlight the technical requirements chosen for images, metadata, and quality control and speak about how they were, or in some cases were not, able to achieve them. In bringing to light these issues we hope to continue an ongoing conversation (most recently articulated at OCLC's "Digitization Matters" forum) about the purpose of digital collections and standards of digital surrogate creation, especially in the age of mass digitization projects. We hope to explore need to harness all of the library’s expertise and resources where they can best be deployed.
East Carolina University