A few months ago, Rose of Anthroarchivist posted about crowdsourcing information in archives. A new report, the second in a series of three, is due out soon from OCLC that discusses “social metadata” in archives, libraries, and museums. Social metadata, explain the report authors in the first part of the report, means “additional information about a resource resulting from user contributions and online activity—such as tagging, comments, reviews, images, videos, ratings, recommendations—that helps people find, understand, or evaluate the content.” Rose discusses the “Children of the Łódź Ghetto Project,” an initiative of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Another interesting project is steve.museum, which invites users to tag and describe museum objects pictured on the site. According to Susan Chun, the project leader, the aim is to create “cyber-volunteers” who establish “enduring relationships” with museum institutions. Initially, many similar crowdsourcing sites for archives and museums aimed to spread out the work of creating detailed descriptive information for their collections (in other words, you might say they were outsourcing metadata generation). The valuable effects of the projects, though, seems to be more in generating excitement and engagement for communities of users interested in a collection’s materials.
The second part of the OCLC report points to this: one of the greatest values of similar projects to archives and museums is their potential to create a sense of energy and community around their collections. Many of the interesting projects were previewed in the session at the Society of American Archivists August 2011 conference, in a panel led by Kate Theimer. To find out a bit more about the myriad projects that engage users and invite user-created content by public users (i.e., archival sites that have Web 2.0 functions) check out some of the projects profiled in the OCLC report. There’s a wealth of information and community to explore!
For more, check out:
- What the National Archives is doing, and a recent talk by Pamela Wright on this theme
- A Different Kind of Web: New Connections Between Archives and Our Users, ed. Kate Theimer (SAA, 2011)
- Kate Theimer’s ArchivesNext blog (esp. the post, “What is the Meaning of Archives 2.0?”)
- Karen Smith-Yoshimura, Social Metadata for Libraries, Archives
and Museums Part 1: Site Reviews (OCLC 2011) <– “the report” mentioned above
PS – You know something’s hot off the presses when it hasn’t even reached wikipedia yet, right? (When I checked just now, “social metadata” was not yet a wikipedia entry.)