National Library of Wales

A crowdsourcing platform for Wales

The project aims to build an open-source platform that allows the National Library of Wales to carry out various crowdsourcing projects using its rich collections.

The National Library of Wales has for many years run a wide variety of crowdsourcing projects to capture data about its collections from volunteer users. The Library is also an early adopter of IIIF and leader in that community, and a large amount of digitised material is provided by the Library in IIIF form.

This makes it possible to build a generic crowdsourcing platform, for use by the Library and others, in which both the inputs and outputs conform to open standards. Digitised material that forms the subject matter of a crowdsourcing project - archives, manuscripts, periodicals, printed books, photography and artwork collections - is published as IIIF by the Library. The data and content generated by users of the platform from that material is saved in a compliant W3C Web Annotation server.

The platform is optimised for basic tasks, but has the potential to generate more complex annotations through new “model” plugins that understand capture models described using a crowdsourcing ontology - the data model. It is a reusable crowdsourcing engine that favours speed and simplicity.

A crowdsourcing project focuses on a single set of IIIF resources, e.g., a particular collection of photographs, or a chosen set of archive material. Each project has its own web identity (i.e., a site that could have a distinct theme or branding), annotation models and editorial content. Administrators of a project define the capture models that project should use to collect contributions from users. A capture model defines both the data model, and the user interface to use to capture the data model.

Volunteers can visit the platform home page and find a project, or be directed straight to a project home page from a link. They can see a visual overview of the project material through thumbnails and hierarchical navigation, and browse through it. Volunteers can also read the editorial pages or watch a help video. The structure of the source IIIF collections and manifests is reflected in the navigation of the project site. Every IIIF canvas has its own web page, and as they browse, volunteers can see the contributions and comments that others have already made on each canvas page. They can log in and start to make annotation contributions of their own, and view how their actions change the progress totals for the whole project. When asked to identify a complex entity in the source image, they can interact with simple forms to enter appropriate field values. Sometimes the value of a field requires selecting an item from a list, entering a date or picking a location on a map. Sometimes the material requires drawing a shape on the image to select the target of the annotation, but not always.

The platform consists of Omeka S, new bespoke modules for Omeka S, the DLCS’s open source W3C Web Annotation Data Model compliant annotation server and additional database tables configured by the new modules in the MySQL database used by Omeka S.

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