Maybe you’re running a crowdsourcing project because your boss thought it would be a good idea. Maybe your outreach person came to you with the idea. Maybe you heard about it at a conference and love the idea of engaging the public with your documents in the deep way transcription allows. I call these “push” transcription projects.
Or… maybe you’re Billie and Taneya. You’re passionate genealogists who are active in all sorts of organizations and projects in Tennessee -- TennesseeGenWeb, USGenWeb, and the Nashville Chapter of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society. You pulled together a group of volunteer genealogists to work with historian Camille Westmont on the records of convict labor at the Lone Rock Stockade. You started your own FromThePage project indexing names from historical Tennessee newspapers. And then you went to the Tennessee State Archives and said, “We really want to do this with your records.”
Or maybe you’re a passionate whaling history nerd who transcribed ships’ logs from the Nantucket Historical Society and thought “hey, I know my local library has ships’ logs in their special collections” and went to the small but mighty East Hampton Public Library and said “look at this! We should do this too!”* (*I don’t know exactly what he said, I just know Andrea told me that’s how they got to FromThePage.)
I think these stories are amazing. You should sit up and take notice when someone like Billie or Taneya comes to you, because that means you have passionate volunteers who are ready and willing to work with you on your material. Sure, you could post material on FromThePage and some volunteers will find it and, if you’re supportive and helpful, stay engaged and keep working. But starting with a core of super passionate local or interested volunteers means you'll have much higher engagement. They’ll care a lot more about your material. They’ll organize transcribathons and help you promote the ones you organize. They’ll talk about your project -- and organization -- on local media.
You might even find yourself in the situation Sonya Coleman and the team at the Library of Virginia is in. Their digitization program is driven, in part, by the needs of the transcribers. Sonya calls it “feeding the beast” because LVA has created this great transcription program and now they have a commitment to keep it going. So they keep digitizing material for volunteers to work on.
I think of this as “pull” transcription projects. You’re not pushing material onto your transcribers, but rather your transcribers are merrily pulling you & your institution to where they’d like you to be. It’s like surfing -- if you can catch the wave and balance on it, it’s amazing. If you can’t, you’ll miss the wave.
Want to find out if your materials fall under push or pull transcription projects? Reserve a call with Ben and Sara.