Creating connections through digitization

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My pitch for Oh, the Places We'll Know!
Big Ideas for Libraries in Communities, held at SFU Harbour Centre on September 19, 2012.

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  • Where are you from? Did you grow up in Vancouver? How long have you lived here?\n\nThese are pretty common questions. For most of us who we are is tied to a sense of place. \n\nDigitization can create connections:\nfrom the past to the present;\nbetween content and place, and perhaps most connections between people in the community\n\nThe library can be a catalyst for this.\n\n\n
  • There is a huge opportunity for libraries in working with communities to create meaningful local digital collections while creating meaningful ways for people to connect and participate.\n\nThis photo is from a grad of the Professional Photo Imaging Program at Langara College. \n
  • NYPL is the leader in digital collections for public libraries. \n\nThe historical menu collection is an great example of crowdsourced metadata or community cataloging. The website is a place for people to get involved and also creates evangelists who are passionate about this collection. \n\nThe barrier to entry is really low: you don’t need to create a login to help transcribe the menus, point out errors or double check someone else’s work. \n\nThe content is really interesting. At McCrerey’s Big Top you could get a tomato sardine sandwich with crisp lettuce for 55 cents.\n\nThe platform that they built was informed just as much by the process they wanted to facilitate, as well as the outcome. By leveraging community effort they are able to build a database of the specific dishes, something that wouldn’t have been possible just by scanning the menus. \n
  • This is a photo of my maternal grandpa. My memory of him is completely tied to the orchard in Westbank, just outside of Kelowna. The people and places i love are completely connected, and layered in timeline of my memory. \n\nI think that photos of neighbourhoods, buildings, and people are interesting. It’s a digitization, storage and archiving problem that many people have. Libraries could help solve this problem by building a platform for these digitized versions of our treasured memories. Perhaps libraries could also be a physical repository of some of the photos once they have been digitized and catalogued. \n\nWith gentrification, the face of Vancouver is quickly changing. I know that some community groups and individuals are documenting what the city looks like. But without institutional support, this information will be lost when people move, die, or their computer crashes. \n\nI’d like to see the community be involved in making design decisions about the platform and the metadata that will be collected. Of course this will differ depending on the collection. While I think photos of neighbourhoods, buildings and people are interesting, different communities might have other priorities. \n
  • Fire insurance maps are one of the best sources of documentation of what was where in a city. \n\nAnnabell Vaughan, a designer and graduate architect, told me about how a planner mapped phone directory names on to the fire insurance maps in Mount Pleasant. He noticed that along 6th Avenue, the street that overlooks Great Northern Way, that most of the family names were Japanese ones. He figured out that Japanese-Canadians lived there and moored their fishing boats at their houses. Back then, the water came up to that level. \n\nBy layering and mapping this information we are able to get a different view of our city and of our history. \n\nI particularly like the parts where history and memory are don’t match up neatly\n\nSo, if we take Google Maps, layer on the fire insurance maps, add the phone directory data, we have a rich grid of information to locate these photos.\n
  • So...yeah...someone’s already done that with Google Maps and photos. \n\nWhatwaswhere.com ties historical photos to Google Maps allowing you to tour familiar streets to see how they appeared in the past.\n
  • Once collections have been digitized they need to be in public spaces like: bus stops, on busses or in the Skytrain stations, or visible in neighbourhoods. \n\nIn my cataloguer’s mind, I imagine people tagging images while waiting for the bus. Perhaps strangers might even talk to each other!!!\n\nI really like what Mike Ridley, from the University of Guelph had to say about libraries occupying a third space--the place that’s not home or not work. He argued that there’s opportunity for libraries to be a digital third space. As a trusted, non-commercial actor, with expertise in organizing and curating collections libraries are perfectly positioned to be the catalyst for preserving local memory. \n
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  • Creating connections through digitization

    1. 1. CREATING CONNECTIONSTHROUGH DIGITIZATION Photo credit: Marco Krage (s1nky on Flickr)
    2. 2. P H O T O C R E D I T: E L I J A H Y U T U C!www.elijahimages.ca
    3. 3. HTTP://MENUS.NYPL.ORG/McCreery’s Big Top (1949)
    4. 4. W H AT I S W O RT H R E M E M B E R I N G ?Eddie Kiyoshi Nakata (1915-1995)
    5. 5. B U I L D I N G O N W H AT W E H AV EFire insurance map of Vancouver, 1903, Library and Archives Canada
    6. 6. W H AT WA S W H E R E . C O Mput history in its place
    7. 7. E N G A G E P U B L I C A L LYPhoto credit: Spacing Magazine on Flickr
    8. 8. THANK YOUwww.tararobertson.ca @tararobertson

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