Erin Wilson at Ohio University Libraries kindly took the time to answer questions from Sara Brumfield of FromThePage, and discussed their project and experience using the platform.
Wilson is the Digital Imaging Specialist and Lab Manager at Ohio University Libraries.
First, tell us about your documents.
We have a growing number of collections in FromThePage, all of which are sourced from the Digital Archives at Ohio University Libraries. They represent a range of materials, from modern dance posters to local history scrapbooks.
Our most active projects include the Los Amigos multicultural student group records, University Board of Trustees meeting minutes dating back to 1890, and first-hand accounts of WWII veterans from the Cornelius Ryan Collection.
What are your goals for the project?
Our broad goal in using FromThePage is to continue the work that we’ve always done to enhance our digital collections, while also supporting remote work options for library staff and student employees during the pandemic.
Our first remote project involved transcription of a scrapbook series documenting Athens County, Ohio in the 1940s. The Peters Range Books are filled with handwritten photo captions and search-critical terms, like people and place names.
With accurate transcripts, the digital collection has become significantly more valuable to researchers. In addition to enhancing content, the greater benefits of transcription include increased collaboration, engagement, and knowledge of our archival collections.
How are you recruiting or finding volunteers/collaborators?
We’ve had a great response from staff and students within the library who have contributed to our projects while working from home.
Most of our FromThePage collections are private for that reason, so only assigned collaborators can work on them. However, our use of the platform has sparked some external collaborations and plans for enlisting help from experts in related subject areas outside of our institution.
Can you share your experience using FromThePage?
FromThePage has proven to be a very versatile tool.
It’s a great platform for collaborative work, making it easy for all users to simultaneously edit, review, and track progress within a collection. The management features also allow a lot of flexibility. Using the field-based transcription option, for example, we’ve created projects to tag works and collect metadata so our collaborators can assist with content description, in addition to transcribing.
The software lends itself to creative uses by allowing administrators to configure projects and access the data in a variety of ways.
How does FromThePage & crowdsourcing fit within a university library?
Crowdsourcing projects are an excellent opportunity to engage users with archives.
Whether by facilitating public contributions, internal collaboration, or expert involvement, they present a unique opportunity for community participation. The possibilities within an academic community are far-reaching, but include the potential use of tools like FromThePage as an instructional aid.
Crowdsourcing technologies also have an important place within the context of digital humanities and scholarly uses of collections data.
What would you tell folks considering a similar project?
Transcription and other crowdsourcing projects are a great way to invigorate digital collections, by increasing their immediate use and long-term discoverability.
Transcription, in particular, is a very time-consuming process. Using FromThePage can open your collections to an established community of transcribers eager to assist. At our organization, it’s facilitated some unexpected collaborations while helping us efficiently manage these projects.
Anything else you'd like to tell us?
I’m excited to see this community grow and a wonderful product continue to develop in the interest of cultural heritage collections!