Daniel Hartwig and Hannah Scates Kettler of the Iowa State University Library kindly took the time to answer questions from Sara Brumfield of FromThePage, and discussed their project and experience using the platform.
Hartwig is the Head of Special Collections and University Archives at Iowa State University, while Kettler serves as the Head of Digital Scholarship and Initiatives.
First, tell us about your documents.
The Iowa State University Library has loaded 43 collections totaling more than 42,000 pages. The collections include a variety of Special Collections & University Archives materials, including publications, manuscripts, and organizational records, as well as materials pulled together for exhibition.
In terms of subject matter, the materials document agriculture and rural life, life sciences, engineering, technology, and Iowa State University history.
Currently, six collections have been made available to the public. These include the Ada Hayden Papers, Adams Family Papers, Curtiss-Wright Engineering Cadettes collection, Iowa Seed Catalogs, Iowa State Parks exhibition, and the We are ISU exhibition. Once these collections are completed, we’ll open the next batch up to the public.
What are your goals for the project?
When we launched back in March, our initial goal was to provide remote work options for library staff and students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, as staff returned to work in August, we decided to open up our collections for public access. Our new goal is to use FromThePage to create transcriptions, translations, and correct OCR for full-text search in our digital library platform.
How are you recruiting or finding volunteers/collaborators?
To date, we have done little recruiting of volunteers and collaborators apart from calls to action on social media.
We plan to do more in the near future, especially as our systems evolve to provide greater search and discovery options, and as we add additional high-profile collections.
Can you share your experience using FromThePage?
Thanks to its integration with ContentDM, loading ISU Library collections into FromThePage was a breeze. We were simply able to enter URLs and voila.
At a previous institution, one of us (Daniel) worked with Ben and Sara to create similar functionality for IIIF manifests. These import options make it very easy to load collections and associated metadata. Additional improvements have made it easy for repositories to manage collections, track engagement, and export content for use in library systems.
How does FromThePage & crowdsourcing fit with the mission of the library?
As part of a land grant institution, the library wholeheartedly supports the mission of sharing knowledge beyond the campus borders.
This is even more important in the time of COVID, where the campus footprint has increasingly expanded into digital and virtual environments. Adhering to this mission requires a further commitment to digital accessibility and the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to, digital content by people with disabilities.
By providing accurate transcriptions, translations, and correcting OCR, we expand access to this content for all online users in accordance with WCAG 2.1 AA accessibility guidelines.
What would you tell folks considering a similar project?
As with most projects, it all comes down to planning.
Some of the harder decisions that need to be made when it comes to crowdsourcing concern contribution guidelines, review of work (who & how?), recognition for those who do the work, marketing & solicitation of volunteers, and integration of output with library systems. Perhaps as with other institutions, we’re focusing on the content while we work out policies, procedures, and integration paths.
Anything else you'd like to tell us?
Ben and Sara are easy to work with, understand our profession well, and are committed to making the systems we all use easier and better integrated.