UMass Lowell Libraries in partnership with the Tewksbury Museum of Public Health has nearly completed the first phase of a project to digitize intake records from the Tewksbury Almshouse.

ledger

Funding for this project was provided through a Library Services and Technology (LSTA) grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC).
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First Parish in Brookline (FPB) Archives Project to bring 300 years of history out of the woods…

by Elizabeth Cousins, Archivist, First Parish in Brookline

 

Chapter One: First Steps on the “road of yellow bricks.”

Lyon Chapel at FPB, named after William Henry Lyon, Sixth Minister, is a lovely space where spirits are moved, ideas are exchanged and plans put into action. This is where ‘archives talk’ evolved into the Archives Project, driven by several factors: In 2012 the basement flooded. The rescued records were moved to premium space that administration could put to other use since our parish is growing; I, a trained Archivist, finally had time to commit to volunteering; and, FPB is anticipating its’ Tercentennial in 2017. During coffee hour over several Sundays, parishioners, the Minister and committee members expressed interest in access to historical records for a variety of reasons. These reasons in turn became the driver for joining Digital Commonwealth. Certain record series have high informational value for ongoing planning, strategic initiatives and reference purposes. We want to digitize these series so multiple committee members can access them remotely, so that Dr. Rev. Sherblom can search sermons by keyword, and to enable parishioners and the community at large to discover and explore our 300 years of evolution as a community of worship and social action.

During the Digital Commonwealth Conference (2014), I spoke with BPL Digitization Services staff. I described where the records were on the continuum of arrangement and description. In preparation for developing work plans for our processing priorities, I wanted to obtain their spreadsheet to capture required metadata before processing is begun. As it turns out, the spreadsheet is being revised, and the actual first step is submitting the online application for digitization servicesDONE!

The next step is a Team site visit, scheduled for early July. I’ll report on my second step down the “road of yellow bricks” next month!

A group of 14 public librarians gathered at the Boston Public Library on April 16, 2014 for the Public Librarian Partnership Program (PLPP). This is the first of three workshops offered by the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) to work directly with public librarians across the state to produce an exhibit of national interest from the wealth of material in the various archives . The goal is to have a total of 45 librarians attend these one day workshops by August 2014.

World War I Poster - Victory Girls
World War I Poster – Victory Girls, Springfield College Archives and Special Collections

 

 

Presenters from the Boston Public Library for the April workshop were Anna Fahey-Flynn (Collaborative Library Services Manager), Danny Pucci (Lead Digital Projects Librarian)  and Nichole (Metadata Mob member). Representing the Digital Public Library of  America (DPLA)  were Amy Ruddersdorf (Assistant Director for Content) and Franky Abbott (Project Manager). Information was provided in a well  organized, empowering and collaborative way and throughout the workshop we were reminded of the network and assistance  available through BPL and the network that is being created.

Davis & Furber Textile Machinery
Davis & Furber Textile Machinery, Lawrence Public Library Collection

 

 

 

Initially, there was an overview of the PLPP and how the various agencies – DPLA, BPL and Digital Commonwealth — work together cooperatively. Material was presented on evaluating an institution’s collection for material that has local significance but will interest a national and international audience. Issues such as raising awareness on copyright and urging the use of Creative Commons were discussed along with creating metadata and making use of help available through the Metadata Mob at the BPL. Some interesting themes emerged as possible exhibit topics: fires, floods, or other disasters; Civil War and World War I; shoe, textile, and  optical industries – many, many possibilities! The participants were excited with the seemingly endless number of possibilities and discussed the various aspects of potential collaborations.

 

The tour of the BPL Digital Imaging Lab, the Internet Archive, and the Metadata Mob office was excellent as it was an opportunity to finally meet all these great folks that have made the digitization of so many new collections by Digital Commonwealth members possible and who have guided all these collaborative projects through the various processes. And at the end there was an opportunity to visit the Dear Boston exhibit! Kudos to the curators!

For a schedule of the workshops and registration information visit this blog post: http://blog.digitalcommonwealth.org/?p=264.

More details about the PLPP is available in this DPLA blog by Franky Abbott: http://dp.la/info/2014/02/14/partnering-with-public-libraries/

Submitted by Margaret Morrissey
Library Director
Jacob Edwards Library

Digital Commonwealth will be hosting 3 upcoming workshops to prepare public libraries to contribute content to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) as part of a Public Librarian Partnership Grant recently awarded to DPLA by the Gates Foundation.

Bread and Roses Strike
Bread and Roses Strike of 1912, Lawrence History Center

In these workshops, public librarians will learn how to work with Digital Commonwealth to select content for digitization and/or identify existing digital content, digitize new content and provide metadata and contextualization for that content, and determine potential themes for DPLA, such as this exhibit concerning the Bread & Roses Strike in Lawrence: (http://dp.la/exhibitions/exhibits/show/breadandroses)

The workshop dates have been scheduled:

Wednesday, April 16, 9:30am – 4:30pm at Boston Public Library (Application deadline is April 9, 2014, 5pm)
Wednesday, June 18, 9:30am – 4:30pm at Jones Public Library, Amherst, MA
Wednesday, July 16, 9:30am – 4:30pm at SAILS Inc., Lakeville, MA

The ideal candidates for these workshops will be public librarians who deal with local history, genealogy and similar unique content. If interested, registration is now available.

Digital Commonwealth board members Kim Cochrane and Deb Dejonker-Berry teamed up to present “Connect to the Community: Using Digital Commonwealth Collections to Develop Lesson Plans” at the MSLA conference on March 10, 2014 in Hyannis, Massachusetts:   http://maschoolibraries.org/content/view/1195/791/

The Massachusetts School Library Association annual conference is attended by school librarians and educators, and also graduate students in these fields.  Deb Dejonker-Berry, Director of the Eastham Public Library, gave an overview to Digital Commonwealth.  Kim Cochrane, Curriculum Librarian and Coordinator of Curriculum and Instructional Technology at Framingham State University, spoke about how school librarians and educators can use the online content available from Digital Commonwealth’s portal and repository, as well as some other websites, within the classroom.  Kim used some of the existing lesson plans developed with Digital Commonwealth’s content as examples: http://members.digitalcommonwealth.org/lesson-plans

Kim and Deb noticed that the session generated many positive responses!  Many attendees stated that they planned to use Digital Commonwealth’s website. Also some indicated they would explore opportunities to interact with their local cultural organizations that either are, or could be, Digital Commonwealth members and encourage these organizations to make digital content available via the new repository.

(Anne Reed is the Assistant Director for Administration at the Brookline Public Library)

The Public Library of Brookline has worked with the Digital Commonwealth since 2007 when Anne Clark uploaded 10 historical photographs into the repository, and provided feedback on the data entry and batch uploading process. From this beginning, Anne Clark and I selected the historic Brookline photographs to be digitized by a local company, Boston Photo Imaging, and with funding from our Board of Library Trustees we were ready to proceed. Anne Clark, Colin Wilkins and I provided the metadata for the photographs; once this task was completed everything was uploaded to the Digital Commonwealth repository. Pleased with the results we proposed a second project digitizing our glass plate negatives. Boston Photo Imaging scanned the negatives and saved the images to an external hard drive. We followed the same procedures as in the first project and these 101 images are now available in the Digital Commonwealth repository.

At the Digital Commonwealth Annual Conferences March 25, 2010 Anne Clark & I presented a session “Bringing the Past to the Future: The Digitization of the Historic Photograph Collection of the Public Library of Brookline”. We also shared our experiences at the April 26, 2011 Digital Commonwealth conference in the session, “From Your Archive to the Web: Managing the Project”. We encouraged libraries to ask questions, consult the experts and ad their collections to Digital Commonwealth.

Brookline Paint Shop
Brookline Paint Shop

We applied for digitization services from the Boston Public Library to have digital images created of our identified and numbered manuscript collections. The BPL’s Library for the Commonwealth program enables BPL staff to provide free digitization services to Digital Commonwealth members who want to make their collections available in the repository.

Our materials are now at the BPL being digitized by their state-of-the-art equipment.  Soon our Brookline High School yearbooks will also be available through the Internet Archives. Once our materials are returned we will begin the metadata entry. We are very fortunate to have the resources and expert staff of the Boston Public Library working to help to libraries and historical societies in the Commonwealth share digital collections.

The Public Library of Brookline’s collections may be seen in the current Digital Commonwealth repository  http://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/items/browse?collection=112  OR in the preview version of the upcoming new repository: https://search.digitalcommonwealth.org/collections/commonwealth:5425kb612 

Read more about the BPL’s digitization services for Digital Commonwealth members in this blog post:   http://digitalcommonwealth.org/blog/?p=113.

This is the second part of the Lee Library blog posts that examine their recent digitization projects. Part I is available here: http://digitalcommonwealth.org/blog/?p=125

This month, we are following up with Lee Library Association Trustee Mary Philpott. Mary has had access to the forthcoming new Digital Commonwealth Repository’s Administrative pages to help test the new repository and work with BPL staff to learn how to enter metadata. (The new Digital Commonwealth web-site will be available to the general public in early 2014.)

Figure 1. View of a draft record summary in new repository. The edit link is above the image

In entering metadata, Mary and her volunteers will be working from inventory sheets that were created decades ago.   These sheets have descriptions, subjects and provenance information.  Lee has only one copy of these sheets for each image, so having the metadata entered solves access and preservation goals for the Lee Library.  All levels of metadata, from descriptive to administrative, can be entered using the repositories new templates: Mary can not only enter descriptions, but who provided the information, as well as their relationship to the images, thus establishing the authority behind the descriptions themselves.   Tom Blake (Digital Projects Manager, BPL) and Danny Pucci (Lead Digital Projects Librarian, BPL) reviewed the inventory sheets with Mary and offered guidance as to how to transpose the printed metadata onto the templates on the Digital Commonwealth’s new repository.

After the review with Tom and Danny and actual practice with adding image files and metadata on the test repository, Mary was able to compare the pros and cons in the workflow using Excel spreadsheets vs. the templates from the new repository.  Working on the new repository is “much easier than using excel.  The new data entry form is clear and easier to use. You can see [your work] in a format that will be viewable to everyone.  Once you enter a description, the system remembers it when you enter new records, so, for example, entering the size of an image becomes easier as the system offers choices of the various sizes previously entered.”

“Not being a librarian, I am not used to the formatting rules.  Eben English was helpful explaining the types of data and format that belongs in the various data entry boxes.” Eben sent Mary a sample record of the Boston Red Sox image.  Mary compared that to a Fire Department photo she was working on and went on to enter another half dozen test records.

Figure 2. Partial view of record template in new repository. Note the drop down boxes and help features

After having the experience of entering the metadata live and seeing the immediate results, “I now understand why the formatting rules are so important in researching the material.  Entering the metadata in the templates is slow for the first few records but once you have a sense of the choices from the drop down boxes, a pattern develops.   It will be faster now that I have become familiar with the templates.  I will be able to show other board members, staff and volunteers how to enter our descriptions.  I am pretty exited about using the software.  I want to see our collection online and want this project to be finished so we have something to show people and be able to share all this information.   It will also help to get additional information from people who know and are familiar with the images.”

Mary explained that judgment calls will need to be made for each of Lee’s collections along the way.  Once all the metadata for these images is complete, Mary is looking forward to working with Lee’s scrapbooks, letters and business ledgers.  The business ledgers, for example, can paint fascinating glimpses into Lee’s history, such as the ledgers of a present-day restaurant/inn that was once a stagecoach stop in Lee and the names of guests are recorded as well as ads from local businesses.

Mary has had time to think a lot about the realization of her dream to see Lee’s history come alive online.  The new repository “has to be one that people can use-not just librarians.”  It’s important for people who know a particular community to be able to help with metadata entry, giving a more complete sense of the unique history of the town.  The volunteers as well as the staff have a vested interest in the town and they want to share that history with the younger populations.  The new repository has made that possible.

The collaboration between the professional librarians at the BPL and volunteers like the ones Mary will be working with provides the best of both worlds.  The professionals offer guidance and training allowing the local historians the opportunity to produce new digital content that will highlight the “distinct personalities” of each community. “Now, we are at the next step, a very concrete step.”