Crowdsourcing: How the National Library of the Netherlands (KB) can use it


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Opportunities and strategies for crowdsourcing in the cultural heritage sector (GLAMs), and within the National Library of the Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB) in particular, are the focus of this paper by Olaf Janssen, project manager for the KB.

In the first part you’ll read what crowdsourcing is, what motivates people to spend their time & money on it and how it differs from old-school voluntary work. You’ll also learn what added value and advantages it can bring, held against frequently mentioned downsides. Furthermore a number of tips for setting up and running successful crowdsourced projects are given.

In part two we’ll focus on crowdsourcing within the cultural heritage sector. We distinguish six forms of crowdsourcing within GLAMs, each illustrated by a number of examples. Using these six categories, we evaluate why & how the National Library of the Netherlands could use the time and expertise of the crowd to add value to its online activities.

The entire article is crowded with examples of crowdsourcing projects, both outside and inside GLAM-territory.

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Crowdsourcing: How the National Library of the Netherlands (KB) can use it

  1. 1. Crowdsourcing: How the National Library of the Netherlands (KB)can use itOpportunities and strategies for crowdsourcing in the cultural heritagesector (GLAMs), and within the National Library of the Netherlands(Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB) in particular, are the focus of this paper byOlaf Janssen, project manager for the KB.In the first part you’ll read what crowdsourcing is, what motivates people to spend their time & money onit and how it differs from old-school voluntary work. You’ll also learn what added value and advantages itcan bring, held against frequently mentioned downsides. Furthermore a number of tips for setting up andrunning successful crowdsourced projects are given.In part two we’ll focus on crowdsourcing within the cultural heritage sector. We distinguish six forms ofcrowdsourcing within GLAMs, each illustrated by a number of examples. Using these six categories, weevaluate why & how the National Library of the Netherlands could use the time and expertise of thecrowd to add value to its online activities.The entire article is crowded with examples of crowdsourcing projects, both outside and inside GLAM-territory.Crowdsourcing?Crowdsourcing invites large groups of anonymous volunteers to helpcollectively realize an idea, product or service by contributing work,knowledge, time or money. Contributions from all participants are welcome,irrespective of expertise level, duration or motivation. In other words,everybody can offer its specific talents and resources.The starting point of the organizer is to profit from the individual contributionsof group members. The force of crowdsourcing lies within the new ways toelicit and bundle the efforts of the public. People offering social overvalue –the abundance of potentially useful and available, yet often hidden knowledge,dedication and help - play key roles.From the business perspective crowdsourcing can be defined as: outsourcingtraditional business activities to people outside the company or organization (according to Jeff Howe).Crowdsourcing is more extreme than outsourcing – subcontracting to well-defined external partners,usually within a formally contracted agreement and closed relationship. It is an open call to an undefinedgroup of volunteers to contribute to a business activity.But according to some crowdsourcing is nothing more than a modern twist of the traditional suggestionbox.Motivation of crowdsourcersParticipants of crowdsourcing projects are oftennot primarily driven by material motivators (e.g.earning money). More frequently they get a kickfrom the underlying immaterial reward,combining egocentric and altruistic factors. Keyingredients in this mix include: satisfyingcuriosity, seeking challenges, earning status andgetting recognition within a community, intellectual enrichment, belonging to a group, working for thepublic good, or simply having fun.
  2. 2. Usually participants are able and motivated to contribute ideas, but contributing to the actual exploitationof that idea is often of a different magnitude. For instance, designing a new beer recipe (‘open beer’project) is relatively easy to do, but building a brewery and setting up distribution and marketing channelsare fully different ballgames.Research on crowdsourcing projects has shown that many consumers consider it an increase of socialstatus when their ideas, software or content is used in the product development process of well-knowncommercial companies.That sounds pretty much like old-school voluntary work. Is it the same meat with differentgravy?Nowadays small people are vertically challenged and spinsters are“happy singles”. Similarly, crowdsourcing is basically a cool phrase forcollective voluntary work. Crowdsourcing 1.0 indeed goes back to theold days, for instance bird counting, counting meteors or clearingsnowy roads.Social media and modern communication tools (Twitter, Facebook,wikis, smartphones, mobile broadband internet) have enabled humannetworks to give new momentum to voluntary work under the newname of crowdsourcing (2.0).Characteristics and differences from ‘old’ voluntary work are amongothers: By using social media for the open call, its reach and impact can be enormous. These worldwide networks go beyond the people that organizers already have on their radars. No musts, lost of flexibility. You do not need to become a member of an organization or club to be able to contribute. You can pick the projects that are just your thing. Every contribution is welcome, be it big or small, once, twice or many times. Contributions are less time and location dependant: you don’t need to be at a specific spot at a specific time to make a donation. On the Dutch petition site you can be a pajama-activist any time you want.Some crowdsourcing 2.0 examples (outside the heritage sector) All of Wikipedia  Dutch twitter-hashtag #dtv (“durf te vragen” Crowdfunding a pedestrian bridge in = dare to ask) to get solutions from the Rotterdam Twitter-community Counting splashed bugs on your number  And many more…. plate to map the spatio-temporal variation in insect density in the Netherlands. Searching for an ill-fated balloonist , or patrolling the US-Mexico border Creating open-source software Making your town nicer Collecting money from your fans to record a CD
  3. 3. Advantages & added value of crowdsourcingFor the organizing party crowdsourcing can deliver added value in multiple ways. We’ll discuss seven:1) Tapping into knowledge & creativity outside the organization Because the (creative) expertise outside company walls can deliver significant added value, it is important for organizations to try to trap it. Lego has set up competitions where consumers can develop their own toys; the winning designs are produced and can be bought in regular shops. The winners can come from any age group, as a number of popular products now on sale were designed by children.2) Direct feedback about product & services When a company gives the public the opportunity and space to voice their comments in an interactive dialogue, the organization can use this free user feedback to improve its products & services.3) Stronger relation between product & consumer Crowdsourcing gives consumers the feeling they have a real voice in the products or services a company is delivering. They feel they are actively listened to and their ideas are taken seriously. For a moment consumers feel part of the organization. This generally leads to improved appreciation and a stronger relation between the two parties.4) Organizations that (want to) use crowdsourcing are challenged to evaluate and review their existing work processes and habits, and adapt where necessary. People participating in crowdsourcing projects look critically at the transparency of the processes they are part of. This can stimulate a company to do business in smarter and more open ways.5) Many hands make lighter & cheaper work Big and thus traditionally expensive jobs can be cut into small, simple activities that can be executed by large numbers of volunteers at (nearly) zero costs. This ways mountains can be moved and costs can be cut down significantly. A well-known example is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a modern twist to bob-a-job. With this mechanism companies have access to a flexible labour pool. Another example: to verify a real human is behind a PC, you are often asked to copy-type higgledy-piggledy arrays of characters - so called captchas - when registering on a website. Libraries can use this workflow in a clever way by cutting up old manuscripts that cannot be correctly OCRed into single words and having these copy- typed by humans at registration time. When enough people do this, you automatically get a complete OCR-file for free. Google’s reCaptcha is a much used application for this process.6) Many hands make better work When in the example above you make sure that the same captcha is typed by multiple users repeatedly, the likelihood of errors diminishes. Linus Law (in Eric Raymond’s version: with enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow) also turns out to be applicable to creating web content.7) Viral network effects, word-of-mouth advertising 2.0. The crucial role of social media in crowdsourcing makes it relatively easy to induce viral word-of-mouth advertising for your crowdsourced project or product. A person is more likely to meet a request for help he receives from a friend or family member than directly from a remote organization he is unfamiliar with and which was not pre-selected by his peers. The modern version of the Tupperware-party in other words. When additionally the Facebook page of the project has many Likes, it must be a cool thing you simply can’t afford to miss out on.
  4. 4. Downsides, pitfalls & points of attentionBesides its big advantages, crowdsourcing inevitably also has a number of downsides and points ofattention the organizer needs to be aware of when planning or running participatory projects with thepublic. We’ll discuss four of them.1) Keeping participants motivated To make a crowdsourcing activity a success (semi-)permanent motivation of participants is essential, especially when they are asked to contribute for longer periods of time. Sustaining the crowd’s motivation is not easy, the organizer is required to visually demonstrate & disseminate the (intermediate) results, most commonly via social media. Further preconditions are mutual respect, trust, openness, equality and enthusiasm; these sorts of things can only be built over time.2) Quality and quantity of the contributions Crowdsourcing gives equal opportunities for everybody who wants to participate, you do not have to meet certain criteria. It can be questioned if all contributors are actually qualified for the activity at hand. There is a risk that a large percentage of contributions is low-grade; a rule of thumb is that about 75% of submissions is effectively unusable. Also large numbers of inferior contributions will give practical problems: it will take a lot of effort and time to hand-pick the valuable pearls from the mud. Furthermore, all submissions, irrespective of quality, must be published and communicated about with the senders. Last but not least there will be differences in style of the contributions, which is especially relevant in crowdsourced writing and photography projects. Fitting these into the overall product can be challenging. The quality of submissions can be influenced by giving people guidelines and templates. However, not all crowdsourcing projects are suitable for predefined fixed formats and guidelines can be ignored or misinterpreted easily. More attention for the quality of contributions can be generated by offering (financial) rewards and clear reward criteria.3) Limitations in current generation of collaboration tools In many crowdsourcing projects the volunteer creates and submits his individual contribution via an online collaboration tool. The current generation of tools offer users only limited possibilities to build upon contributions from others and generate synergies. Positive exceptions are tools for open software development. In contrast, employees within companies often have direct access to the knowledge and experience of their co-workers when working on a collaborative project. The added value of crowdsourcing volunteers is likely to increase with the next generation of tools.4) Copyright / IPR issues Crowdsourcing is impossible without volunteers. The rule that IPR developed in paid employment is automatically transferred from the employee to the company is not valid for crowdsourcing in general. In many projects the rights for exploitation of the contributions are often exclusively claimed by the organizing company. Because crowdsourcing is a relatively new phenomenon, many participants are not (yet) aware of the copyrights on their contributions. With the rise of new, low-barrier licensing models such as Creative Commons, more people will become aware of the role of IPR in crowdsourcing. The widespread use of these open forms of licensing can have limiting effects on the possibilities for exploiting the results by commercial companies. Another copyright-related problem that might occur in certain crowdsourcing projects is the uncertainly if the person contributing an idea is actually the inventor of that idea, he might as well have copied (or stolen) it. It can take a lot of time & effort to find out who is the legitimate owner.
  5. 5. Tips for successful crowdsourcingWhen initiating and planning crowdsourcing projects, an organizing party can learn important lessonsfrom the mistakes others made before. The following best-practice tips can contribute to deliveringsuccessful projects.1) Be clear who you are, who you are looking for & what you expect from the project If you are a well-known, big organization the crowd is quite likely to be interested to be involved in your activities. See for instance NASA’s Ice Hunters project. But what if your are not that well-known? How do you find volunteers that are interested and motivated to collaborate with you? The first step is to explain to your potential helpers who you are, what your background & values are, what you want to achieve with your project and what sort of volunteers you are looking for. Are you looking for that single person with exactly the right bit of special expertise, or do you need to mobilize as many people as possible?2) Make sure you have enough time & money Mobilizing the public is not possible without resources and effort. The contributions from volunteers might be free in themselves, but you will (nearly) always need some form of central organization to start, plan, execute & evaluate the project and to transform the contributions into usable products or services. If you want to be taken seriously by your crowd, make sure you have a solid approach and communication during all phases of the project. Also make sure to have enough people and resources available within your organization.3) Be prepared for success Always expect your project to become a success right from the start. So at the beginning already answer “questions for later”, such as: - Imagine we indeed get a solution to our problem from the crowd, how are we going to follow it up within the existing organizational structures? - Is there a budget for follow-on? - How are we going to deal with a patent the project might bring us?4) Pick the right crowd In step 1 you already decided what type of crowd you need. If they are not Joe and Mary Citizen, we could speak about elite-sourcing or expert-sourcing, in other words: crowdsourcing with the right crowd. Selecting volunteers from already developed communities that collectively want to commit to the project is strongly recommended. In other words, avoid trying to set up a new community especially for the project. By working with the right, involved volunteers you’ll diminish the likelihood of unusable results. You’ll also need less moderation, which makes the joint process more efficient.5) Use the right style, be to the point in your communication Every type of organization has it’s own specific jargon. If you want to engage with the general public, an outsider must be able to understand what you are talking about. Also realize that nowadays online means “little time, always in a hurry and a short attention span”. Therefore use a style of communication that is simple, to the point, generic and visually oriented; this will make it easier for specialists from other disciplines to get your point and feel stimulated to give their input. Obviously, don’t limit yourself to your own language & country, the size of the crowd will increase dramatically by communicating in English.
  6. 6. 6) Have an excellent collaboration website A collaboration website is an excellent facilitating tool for a crowdsourcing project. Important requirements include: - Complete integration with Twitter, Facebook and other social media - Clear explanation which incentives the participants or winner(s) will get. This can be something material, or for instance the promise the winning ideas will be visible in a product or service. - The site has to show lots of activity and radiate a lively atmosphere. This will support the required dynamic nature of the collaboration. Participants are the heroes in their own epic journeys and are motivated by guaranteed and frequent feedback about the runnings of the project. - Contributions from participants must be presented in a clear and attractive way that will invite others to add their own solutions and build upon the contributions already submitted. An excellent example of a good collaboration site is My Starbucks Idea, where clients can contribute their product, experience & involvements ideas. The best ideas are actually taken into production.7) Use review-experts It’s their task to review and assess the business value of the contributions that are being submitted. These reviewers can come from inside the organization, but might also be found externally via expert- sourcing.The above overview is of course limited. Jasper Visser, author of the very interesting blog The Museum ofthe Future, has made a list of 30 do’s for designing successful participatory and crowdsourcing projects.Zooming in: crowdsourcing & the cultural sector (GLAMs)Within the Dutch cultural heritage sector crowdsourcing is currently a highly trending topic. In the light ofever decreasing government funding many GLAMS are increasingly looking at how the public can bemobilized to support their business activities.Oomen en Aroyo, researchers from the Institute of Sound & Vision and the VU University of Amsterdamhave researched (PDF) opportunities and challenges for crowdsourcing in GLAMs. In this paper theydistinguish six ways crowdsourcing is used. 1. Correction and transcription: Inviting users to correct and/or transcribe outputs of digitisation processes, mostly images and/or OCR  MONK, help to improve a search engine for old manuscripts  Transcribe Bentham, transcription of 12.400 manuscripts from Jeremy Bentham, an important philosopher and social reformer from London (1748-1832)  Digitalkoot, play games to give high-quality OCR to the national library of Finland (check that lovely brochure). Winner of the DISH Award 2011  The Victoria & Albert museum asks the public to crop photographed versions of their objects.
  7. 7. 2. Contextualisation : Adding contextual knowledge to objects, e.g. by telling stories or writing articles & wiki pages with contextual data.  Description of the Book of Kells (or any other cultural treasure) on Wikipedia  1001 Stories of Denmark. User can contribute their own stories, photos or videos about 1001 heritage locations in Denmark. They can also read or augment submissions from other people. Oneindig Noord-Holland (“Infinite North-Holland”) is a similar initiative from the province of Noord-Holland in the Netherlands.3. Complementing collections : Active pursuit of additional objects to be included in a (web)exhibit or collection.  In the project Europeana1914-1918 the public can upload photos, letters, postcards, souvenirs, stories or anecdotes about WWI. It is also possible for them to have physical objects digitized. By using the expertise of the German national library and Oxford University Library these materials are used to complete the existing WWI- collection on Europeana.  The Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre has an elaborate collection of newspapers from the area around Kincardine, Ontario, Canada. Sadly the collection has some gaps from the 1930s, ’40s en ’50s. The museum asks the public for help in filling these gaps.  The Museum of Broken Relationships is a traveling museum to which people with broken hearts can submit personal belongings that remind them of their ex-loved ones. Vulgar exhibitionism or useful self-help?4. Classification : Gathering or correcting descriptive metadata related to objects in a collection. Also known as social tagging, user generated metadata or folksonomy. In the year 2012 a widespread phenomenon.  Since 2008 the Dutch National Archives have uploaded to Flickr hundreds of photos from their own collection and from the Spaarnestad Photo collection. Users are asked to enrich these objects with tags and comments. This has been very successful, so far users have added thousands of tags.  The Dutch Institute for Sound & Vision has developed the online game Woordtikkertje (“Word-tag”). With this attractive low-barrier game users can annotate the archive of the Dutch TV-series Man Bijt Hond (“Man bites dog”) in a playful manner.5. Co-curation : Using inspiration or expertise of non-professional curators to create (web)exhibits  A good example of co-curation was Click! A crowd-curated exhibition in the Brooklyn Museum in summer of 2008. In line with the adagium “the expertise outside museum walls is greater than it is inside”, the audience was invited to select, rank and evaluate this photography exhibition. A similar approach was used for Split Second.6. Crowdfunding : Cooperation of people who pool their money together to support efforts initiated by others. More specifically: collecting money for supporting, expanding, conserving, enriching or opening up the collection. During times of ever decreasing government funding possibly the most relevant and important crowd-activity GLAMs need to tackle.  Museum Meermanno, the oldest book museum in the world, currently runs Boek zoekt vrouw, man en bedrijf (“Book wants a wife, husband and company” - a wink to the very popular TV-series Farmer Wants a Wife). In this programme both individuals and companies are invited to adopt a book to prevent the museum from having to close down.
  8. 8.  Stadsherstel Amsterdam (a Dutch company for city restoration) wants to restore the ‘Dik Trom School (Dik Trom being a famous character from Dutch children’s literature) in the village of Etersheim on the shores of the IJsselmeer. The money for this project is being raised via crowdfunding.Zooming in further: crowdsourcing & the KBAs we see, there are lots of GLAMs and projects that use crowdsourcing rather successfully. As can besuspected by the large number and variety of both national and international initiatives, there is always aworthwhile goal and a suitable form for a GLAM to collaborate with the public.Using the six categories above we’ll now look at how and why the KB could use the knowledge and timeof the crowd to add value to its business activities and services. We’ll also see what challenges and pointsfor attention the KB would need to deal with.1) Correction & transcription: Inviting users to correct and/or transcribe outputs of digitisationprocesses (images and/or OCR)Despite lots of research current OCR technologies are not yet able toconvert historical printed texts into 100% errorless full-text.Especially when large numbers of pages are being digitized, it isimpossible for KB or even its digitisation partner Google to produce100% correct machine readable OCR. Also this OCR will containstructural errors, the software will only correctly recognize paragraphheadings, footnotes, musical scores, tables etc. to a limited extent.The situation is even worse in old manuscripts or works printed inspecial or historic fonts; these are often impossible for human beingsto read or understand, let alone for computers.However, there a couple of very good reasons why the KB shouldstrive for high quality OCR:- Searchability of its full-text collections. This will not only make it easier for information to be found directly, but will also benefit serendipic discovery of related information. The user feedback after the launch of Early Dutch Books Online in May 2011 has shown once more that the scientific user group of the KB has an insatiable appetite for OCR that is both errorless and well-structured.- Data services/ APIs: the KB wants to pro-actively make its metadata and full-texts available via APIs for B2B partners and services. These stakeholders will benefit from (and expect) high-quality KB data.The crowd could contribute to these goals by:- OCR correction of KB digitization output: correcting OCR errors in digitized print collections (books, newspapers, magazines, proceedings of Dutch Parliament, radio news bulletins etc.). Suitable for a broad range of people, provided that the correction tools are fun and intuitive to use.- Transcription of manuscripts: converting manuscripts into texts, preferably also modern interpretations that 21st century users can understand. This can obviously only be done by a small group of volunteers, so expert-sourcing is the weapon of choice here.As far as correction & transcription is concerned, there are no publicly visible signsof KB-initiated collaboration between KB and interested volunteers. Dutchjournalist and language historian Ewoud Sanders: “Millions of pages from historicnewspapers, magazines and books have been put online by Dutch heritage
  9. 9. institutions. Because these texts have been produced by OCR, they often abound with errors. I’vesearched for possibilities for the public to correct these errors, but hardly any website offers thisfunctionality, even for registered users. ”If you want to mobilize the crowd for your project, you’ll at least need a visible and findable projectwebsite. A search on Google for e.g. “ocr crowdsourcing kb national library netherlands” (in multiplepermutations) gives only a reference to the CONCERT tool from the IMPACT project. The KB has done aninternal pilot with this tool, but follow-on actions never happened.For these reasons the following suggestions and points for attention are relevant :- Make the tools fun and intuitive to use. A good OCR correction tool should work logically without much explanation. Also it must be fun and engaging enough for users to want to use it again. The award winning Digitalkoot game mentioned earlier is an excellent example.- Or choose to integrate OCR correction into established workflows people already use, such as registering on websites using captchas.- Adapt the digitisation workflow of the KB for processing user-corrected texts. Apart from processing the user-adapted text files themselves, also the ALTO-files (which contain word coordinates for highlighting purposes) and search indices must be updated accordingly. Version management and quality control are disciplines that also need attention.2) Contextualization: Adding contextual knowledge to objects, e.g. by telling stories or writing articles/ Wiki pages with contextual dataThe KB is the custodian of wonderful collections and objects. It tries to givecontext to them in the form of e.g. dossiers, web-exhibitions, flipbooks, collectiondescriptions and Historic Newspaper themes. Given the size of the KB collectionsand the very limited number of collection specialists responsible for writing them,these contextual stories are unavoidably (but well-meant) drops in the ocean. TheKB has enough materials for hundreds of person-years of writing context andbackground information.In the long-tail of the internet there are very likely enough people with sufficientexpertise, time and commitment for reliably enriching objects & (sub)collectionsof the KB. The very presence of relevant lemmas on Wikipedia – a long-tail sitepur sang – and the large number of sites maintained by “Dutch written heritageaficionados” (just some examples) strengthen this suspicion. Among them mustbe enough persons that are actually prepared to enrich the KB-dossiers, writeextra explanatory texts for the flipbooks or tell their own stories and memories about events mentioned inthe KB Historic Newspapers.As far as creating context is concerned, at this moment there are no publicly visible signs of KB-initiatedcollaborations between KB and interested volunteers. The contextual KB services (dossiers,webexhibitions, flipbooks, Dutch poet profiles) and the KB full-text websites are all based on the web1.0one-way broadcasting model (“KB provides, users consume”). There are no possibilities whatsoever forfans of Dutch poetry to make additions to or even remarks on existing poet profiles, or create new profilesabout their favorite poets themselves. Also, a search on Google reveals that there are no separatecrowdsourcing sites or blogs where fans of e.g. the Dutch poet H.H. ter Balkt or mythological creaturesare invited, stimulated or enabled to contribute extra context to the KB-collections.In my previous article Wikipedia, Wikimedia, GLAMwiki - What can a GLAM do with them? (Dutch only,English translation will follow a.s.a.p.) I already gave a number of suggestions how the KB can capturethe contextual knowledge of the crowd: - Integrate the KB-dossiers into existing Wikipedia articles and create new ones where necessary. Consider these to be the “master” versions that are maintained, enriched and checked centrally by crowdsourcing. By using the available Wikipedia-APIs it is very simple to embed these Wiki- dossiers into the KB website.
  10. 10. - The KB as serving leader within networks of Dutch culture, history & society aficionados. The fact that the KB is a party with established authority that can play a coordinating and facilitating role within these networks, is a key element for success. - Furthermore, the KB can invest in external network facilitators. The British Museum has had much benefit from its Wikipedian-in-residence programme for improving the contextualization of its collections by Wiki- volunteers. - The KB can make an investment in tools for capturing the contextual wisdom of the crowd. That can be fairly simple, for instance see how the Dutch Institute for Sound a & Vision has set up its Wiki-based open collaborative knowledge platform. - The articles in the web exhibition The ideal book, one hundred years of private press in the Netherlands, 1910-2010 are very suitable to be transformed into a blog. This will not only increase the visibility of the content (blog entries are always high in Google rankings), but will also enable the public to provide extra context and background information via blog comments.3) Complementing collections: Active pursuit of additional objects to be included in a (web)exhibit orcollection.Although the physical collections of the KB are vast, they are not complete. Last year I heard it isestimated that 1 million Dutch books (i.e. books that are written in Dutch, are about the Netherlands orhave been published in the Netherlands) are not part of the KB collection, either by deliberate choice (asthey do not fit into the acquisition strategy) or by undeliberate accident (e.g. they are not available on themarket for purchase or KB does not know about their existence). Because the KB has a national “last-resort” deposit function, it should try to fill these undeliberate gaps. For this a call for help to the publiccould be of great added value.Actively involving the public to try to complete the collections of the KBhas not happened so far. The KB describes how publishers,(governmental) institutions, associations or foundations can submitpublications. Although the KB also welcomes publications by individualmembers of the public, no information is provided how non-publishingcitizens can donate books that are not yet part of the KB collections. Aquery on Google for “Koninklijke Bibliotheek donation” (or somethingsimilar in Dutch) gives no useable information how (and if) Average Joecan complement KB collections.To enable this, the KB could publish gap-lists of missing books under the slogan “KB wants a book”.Ewoud Sanders advices to give scans of the book in return for the donation of the physical object: “Ireally think this book should be part of the KB collection and would be very happy to donate it. But at thesame time I also want to be able to consult it when I need to. Is there a solution for this problem? Ofcourse, and it’s very obvious: I donate my paper item to the KB and I get a digitized version in return.”4) Classification: Gathering or correcting descriptive metadata related to objects in a collectionClassic library catalogues are based on formalized and strictly controlled listsof keywords and subject headings that have been invented by a very limitedgroup of library professionals. These do not necessarily match what users findlogic, handy and up-to-date. Flickr very successfully uses a bottom-upfolksonomy to enable and improve discovery of its photographs. These tagsare less formal and well-structured, but in many cases give equal or evenbetter, richer, more usable and multi-dimensional descriptions of the object athand. Successful catalogue searches are more likely when the collected tagsand logic of the community is available in addition to the formal classical top-down taxonomy.
  11. 11. Users of the KB catalogues are often students, scientists or professionals. To a certain extent thesepotential taggers are a group of peers, which would ensure that the user generated metadata will be andwill remain usable for these important target audiences. Based on their social tags it will be easier for theKB to make connections to relevant websites, blog posts, films, events or online discussions.As far as my research goes, at this moment there are no possibilities for users to tag objects they find inKB online services. It is also not possible to correct errors yourself or to inform the KB cataloguemanagers about suspected errors in the metadata. Ewoud Sanders makes the same observation in awider sense: “When using digital bibliographies, you will frequently find small errors. Is there an easy wayto correct these mistakes yourself? No, still not yet.”The fear of losing control over metadata quality will be one of the reasons why there are still nopossibilities for KB users to add tags and/or correct metadata. However, to a large extent this fear isunfounded, as user tags are always complementary to (and not instead of) the formal classifications.Users can be offered to choice to only use the formal subject headings and ignore the social tags.Furthermore, the social tags can be stored in a individual database, fully separated from the formalmetadata. When the KB makes sure that the user interaction for adding tags is made fun, easy andintuitive (e.g. by game play), there are no good reasons not to make this a reality in 2012. The plannedimplementation of WorldcatLocal, with its support for user tagging, seems to be a first step in the rightdirection.5) Co-curation: Using inspiration/expertise of non-professional curators to create (Web)exhibits . I’lllimit the discussion to co-curation of KB online exhibitions.KB’s current webexhibits show the richness of the KB collections usingtreasures that have been selected and contextualized by KB’sprofessional curators (collection specialists). This “view of theprofessional” inevitably gives a one-dimensional perspective to theseexhibitions. After all, there is no possibility for the intendedconsumers of these products to have an influence on the selection,arrangement, connection, contextualization (see item 2 above) orpresentation of the objects prior or during the exhibition. Also there isno possibility while visiting the exhibition to share the objects thatcatch your attention within your social & professional networks. Thisprevents easy and low-barrier discovery of the exhibits by newpotential audiences.In line with Joy’s Law (“expertise outside KB walls is greater than it iswithin”), there will almost certainly be enough people with sufficient commitment, time and expertise inthe long tail of the internet that are keen to co-create an online exhibition with the KB. Think of secondaryschools for instance (“the choice of the Rembrandt College”). They can shed an alternative & fresh lighton KB collections, which might very well lead to unexpected perspectives and discoveries. Furthermore,these guest curators, just like Wikipedians-in-residence, can be used as KB ambassadors for buildingbridges towards new audiences.Of course varying degrees of freedom and collaboration are possible in this type of activity. The KB canoutsource the entire exhibition process to volunteers, from selection, digitization, arrangement,connection, contextualization, presentation to evaluation, with the KB only supplying raw source materialsfrom its collections and minimum levels of organizational support. But also single process steps can becrowdsourced, such as only the selection of the objects for instance. The KB might want to put certainconditions on this, such as theme, geographical area, event or time period the exhibits should fit into.6) Crowdfunding : Cooperation of people who pool their money together to support efforts initiated byothers. More specifically: collecting money for supporting, expanding, conserving, enriching or opening upthe collection.
  12. 12. As the KB is subject to annual budget cuts for the coming years, crowdfunding can be an interestingoption to generate extra revenue. Not so much for structural expenses in the first place, but more for e.g.raising a supplementary amount of money for the acquisition of this one extraordinary manuscript stillmissing from the collection (just like the Louvre).Besides the direct effect (money) crowdfunding can bring indirect advantages to the KB, as it is amechanism to establish a long-term relationship with the public. People who make donations act asambassadors, they’ll tell their friends about their good deed(s) and can enthusiasmize potential newdonors outside the already known KB networks. In other words, crowdfunding can enlarge and strengthenthe networks of the KB; the more Friends of the KB, the more brand recognition, commitment, potentialnew future benefactors etc.Furthermore it can offer a lot of financial flexibility, as in crowdfundingprojects communication with the donors is very direct and transparent.Traditional providers of subsidy budgets will account the KB against mutuallyagreed fixed outcomes. Crowdfunded projects can be more flexible in theirend results as donors have only a limited say in the exact outcomes. This isespecially true when the KB manages to establish a relation of trust with its donors; it can then allow forsome freedom in the use of the crowdfunded resources, albeit within reasonable boundary conditions ofcourse.The KB uses crowdfunding 1.0 on a limited scale. For the acquisition of extraordinary objects the KB callsupon its Friends Association, which has been supporting these kind of activities for many years. Besidesthis single webpage there is a remarkable lack of sites or crowdfunding platforms (that is: I cant’ findthem via Google) on which the KB pro-actively and visibly calls upon non-Friends to contribute money forthe preservation of Dutch cultural heritage.Note: This article is also available in Dutch (PDF-download, Slideshare) and in a shortened version as anEnglish-language slidedeck (PPT-download, Slideshare) About the author: Olaf D. Janssen (1973) is currently a product development manager for National Library of the Netherlands in The Hague. Before that he was a Europeana-pioneer and one of the founders The European Library. Off-work he trains for triathlons and is an amateur-chef. Contact: - @ookgezellig