Text Encoding Projects for Small Institutions

January 12, 2010 by

Case Western Reserve University’s Kelvin Smith Library is in the first year of a five-year project to digitize and text-encode books on this area’s history. The project, Cleveland, Ohio and the Western Reserve Digital Text Collection, contains over 100 texts on the history of Cleveland and its surrounding area, which date from the early-nineteenth to early-twentieth century, and cover a wide array of subjects, including: ethnic groups in and around Cleveland; Cleveland charity organizations; and historical homes and landmarks of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. This project has presented a few challenges, two of which are:

  • Training staff, who have different skill levels and other job responsibilities, in text encoding.
  • Finding ways to make use of the encoded text to deliver a web-based environment that allows for in-depth research and analysis.

I hope to explore these two challenges at THATcamp. Specifically, what are some training tools and resources that institutions currently use to train staff? Who exactly comprises staff for such projects? Would there be an interest in pursuing a collaborative online open source training environment, and if so, what would be the details? In regards to the second challenge, we are encoding both typewritten, book-length material and handwritten manuscripts, each of which have their own encoding nuances. What are some ways to create a data structure that can accommodate such diverse materials? How do institutions determine an effective infrastructure to account for text encoding projects?

One Response to Text Encoding Projects for Small Institutions

  1. laura mandell on January 12, 2010 at 10:26 pm


    I think the idea of creating “a collaborative open source training environment” sounds wonderful. We were trying to do something like that involving Miami students by launching the CHATLab:


    I noticed that some small liberal arts colleges are banding together to share resources, and we should think about doing so as well, even at bigger universities.

    I look forward to seeing you again.

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