Amber Kuo of the LA County Public Library kindly took the time to answer questions from Sara Brumfield of FromThePage, and discussed their project and experience using the platform. Her colleague, Kascia Samel, librarian at American Indian Resource Center, also contributed to this interview.
Amber Kuo is the Cataloging Librarian at the LA County Public Library.
First, tell us about your documents.
Letters of the Office of Indian Affairs is a collection of letters written by state and federal officials and private citizens to the US Office of Indian Affairs in Washington, DC, between 1849 and 1880. These letters document the early interaction between the US officials and Native Americans in California at that time. The beginning of California's statehood was a time of upheaval for American Indians: new citizens poured into California after the discovery of gold, and the increase in population intensified the conflict between new settlers and Native Americans. These letters depict the turbulent times while the government officials worked toexert control over California Indians.
These letters were digitized from a collection of microfilm held by LA County Library's American Indian Resource Center, which collects material related to American Indians in the Los Angeles area and in California.
What are your goals for the projects?
Since the letters are handwritten, it is difficult for machine to recognize the text. We would like these letters to be fully transcribed, so the content is more accessible. Once our volunteers help transform the content into machine-readable text, the letters can be keyword searched and analyzed by researchers, students, and anyone else interested in learning about California Native American history.
How are you recruiting or finding volunteers/collaborators?
We have a page dedicated to this transcription project on the Library’s website. We have used our social media platforms to promote this transcription project in the past. During Native American Heritage Month this past November, we planned some special outreach programs to recruit more volunteers. We are also planning to send out newsletters to our volunteers to highlight and report on the progress of the project.
Can you share your experience using FromThePage?
I really like the interface of the document viewer on FromThePage. The abilities to zoom in, zoom out, rotate views, or change the size of the screen allow users to navigate the documents seamlessly. We can import and export documents with just a few clicks. The progress bar helps us track the completion of the transcription for each document. We’re very happy that we found FromThePage to facilitate our crowdsourcing transcription project.
How does FromThePage & crowdsourcing fit with special collections and archives?
The American Indian Resource Center collection is the largest public library collection on American Indians and the American Indian experience. We are making efforts to make our collection more discoverable as the AIRC is not known for archival materials. FromThePage and crowdsourcing allow us to highlight and promote not only the Letters of the Office of Indian Affairs but also the overall collection.