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An Online Game to Correct Inaccurate Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in BHL: A Purposeful Gaming Update

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An Online Game to Correct Inaccurate Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in BHL: A Purposeful Gaming Update

  1. 1. An Online Game to Correct Inaccurate Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in BHL: A Purposeful Gaming Update Marty Schlabach Food & Agriculture Librarian Mann Library Cornell University Council on Botanical & Horticultural Libraries Annual Meeting Decorah, Iowa June 18, 2015
  2. 2. Listings of fruit and vegetables with descriptions Amateur's Fruit and Ornamental Trees, York, PA 1867
  3. 3. http://bhort.bh.cornell.edu/catalogs.htm
  4. 4. Ethel Zoe Bailey 1889-1983 • Curated the seed & nursery collection for 70+ years, 1911-1980s • Daughter of Liberty Hyde Bailey • Graduated from Smith College 1911 • Assisted her father with many of his plant collection trips around the world • Assisted and coauthored with her father many of his botany and horticultural publications • Awarded the George Robert White Medal in 1967 from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society • Awarded the Smith College Medal in 1970 • Continued curating the seed & nursery catalog collection until her death in 1983 at the age of 93 • Lived a long and distinguished career in botany and horticulture
  5. 5. Why were seed & nursery catalogs collected? How was the collection used? LH Bailey used the collection in support of his publications, such as: • Hortus Third • Manual of Cultivated Plants • Annals of Horticulture
  6. 6. How was it used? 1889 Introduction of Vick’s Irondequoit Melon, as found in Annals of Horticulture, by LH Bailey
  7. 7. Why Digitize Seed & Nursery Catalogs? • Taxonomists • Discover dates of early introductions of new plants • Gardeners • Historical availability and uses of traditional cultivars of heirloom annuals and perennials • Museums and botanical gardens • Recreate historical gardens • Plant breeders • Look for descriptions of plants with unique disease and pest resistance • Historians of art and illustration • Drawn to the striking representations of flowers, fruit & vegetables • Historians of printing • Catalogs document changes in printing
  8. 8. Collaborative Digitization Effort • New York Botanical Garden • LuEsther T. Mertz Library • 50,000+ catalogs • National Agriculture Library, USDA • Henry G. Gilbert Nursery & Seed Trade Catalog Collection • 200,000+ catalogs • Missouri Botanical Garden • Peter H. Raven Library • Seed exchange lists • Cornell University • Cornell University Library • Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium (Plant Specimen Collection) • Ethel Zoe Bailey Horticultural Catalog Collection • 130,000+ catalogs
  9. 9. Seed & Nursery Catalog Digital Collection • Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) • http://biodiversitylibrary.org • Collaboration among 20 botanical garden, natural history museum and academic libraries • 157,532 volumes • 45,568,082 pages • Seed & Nursery Catalog Collection • http://biodiversitylibrary.org/browse/collection/seedcatalogs • A subcollection in BHL • Currently 15,437 volumes and growing • 769,163 pages • Combining NAL, NYBG, MBG and Cornell digitized catalogs
  10. 10. Historical Development of American Seed & Nursery Catalogs • Broadside • Multi-page, text only • Engraved & woodcut images added to text • Hand-colored engravings • Lithography • Chromolithography • Black & White photography • Color photography • Today: websites
  11. 11. Broadside One sheet only Approx 12”x18” (Prince Nursery, 1793)
  12. 12. Text only, multi-page (J. B. Russel’s Catalog of Garden Seeds, 1827)
  13. 13. Engravings added to the text (James Vick, 1868)
  14. 14. Hand-colored engravings (D. M. Dewey, Rochester, NY, n.d.)
  15. 15. Black & White Lithography, followed by Chromolithography
  16. 16. Black & White Photography (A. Currie & Co, 1923) Color Photography (Miss Ella V. Baines, 1928)
  17. 17. Garden & Farm Tools & Equipment (Mann’s Superior Seeds, 1934)
  18. 18. Beekeeping and Dairy Supplies (Mann’s Superior Seeds, 1934)
  19. 19. Poultry, Supplies and Equipment (Mann’s Superior Seeds, 1934)
  20. 20. • National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis. • Partners include Harvard, New York Botanical Garden, Cornell • Runs Dec 2013-Nov 2015 • Funded in part by IMLS Purposeful Gaming and BHL: engaging the public in improving & enhancing discovery & access to digital texts
  21. 21. BHL Problem Statement: • Major challenge for digital libraries: • full-text searching of scanned texts is significantly hampered by poor output from Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. • Historic literature has proven to be particularly problematic because of its tendency to have • varying fonts • varying typesetting • varying layouts • ink bleed-through • foxing • other physical condition issues
  22. 22. • Building an online game to crowdsource the correction of inaccurate OCR • Crowdsourcing the transcription of inaccurate OCR and handwritten texts • Adding new content types upon which to test the approach • Seed & Nursery Catalogs & Seed Exchange Lists • Test OCR correction on this content type • Crowd-source the transcription when needed • Field Notebooks, • Handwritten, OCR virtually impossible • Crowd-source the transcription How are we engaging the public in improving and enhancing the discovery and access to digital texts in BHL?
  23. 23. Beanstalk
  24. 24. What happens with the game output? • Multiple players enter the same character string for a word, system considers it correct • String of characters or the correct word is added to the index • Made available for searching & improves discoverability • Games released, June 9, 2015
  25. 25. Thanks to my colleagues at: • Mann Library, Cornell University (especially Carol Lowe) • Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium, Cornell University (especially Bob Dirig, Bailey Hortorium, retired for details of Ethel Zoe Bailey’s life) • Biodiversity Heritage Library • Mertz Library, New York Botanical Garden • Peter H. Raven Library, Missouri Botanical Garden • National Agriculture Library, USDA • Institute for Museum and Library Services
  26. 26. Questions??

Editor's Notes

  • Disclaimer: not a botanist, horticulturist, historian
    In the words of Peter Sellers playing Chauncey in Being There, “I’m just a gardener”
  • Beautiful images in catalogs of the late 19th century and early 20th
    Flowers
    Vegetables
    Fruits
    Landscape plants
  • Perhaps more important to us as gardeners, plant scientists and others of us interested in horticultural history and germplasm diversity
    are the descriptions of the many cultivated varieties or cultivars; of vegetables, fruits, grains, flowers, landscape plants
    Many interests and uses of historic seed and nursery catalogs in addition to above
    illustration & art history, printing history, landscape history,
  • Perhaps some of you remember the legendary Irondequoit Muskmelon (substitute image from 1891 Vick)
    Apparently developed and grown in the Irondequoit area
    And marketed in Rochester
    Great flavor, but didn’t ship well
    Soon lost favor among growers, as farms became more distant from city markets
    Note the price, compared to other varieties!
    It must have been special and in high demand.
  • Vick’s Floral Guide, 1889
  • John A. Salzer Seed Co. catalog, 1897
    Example of exaggerated fruit and vegetable images
  • Cornell’s collection is part of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium
    the plant specimen collection
    founded by Liberty Hyde Bailey, noted botanist and horticulturist
    historical portion of the collection is housed in Mann Library Special Collections
    Ethel Zoe Bailey Horticultural Catalogue Collection
    named after Ethel Zoe Bailey
    daughter of Liberty Hyde Bailey
    she was long time curator of the collection
    136,000+ catalogs
    earliest Cornell catalog is 1793 broadside from Prince Nursery part of the collection of Lee Library, Geneva
  • Massive card catalog of thousands of 3x5 cards indexing the cultivars in American and non-American catalogs
  • Why was a seed and nursery catalog collection compiled?
    How was it used?
    LH Bailey used the collection in support of his publication of
    Manual of Cultivated Plants
    Hortus Third
    Annals of Horticulture
  • Why was a seed and nursery catalog collection compiled?
    How was it used?
    LH Bailey used the collection in support of his publication of
    Manual of Cultivated Plants
    Hortus Third
    Annals of Horticulture (1889-1893)
    Bailey noted the introduction of the Irondequoit melon in 1889
  • Who uses the catalogs now?

    Relatively few large collections, to use the catalogs need to travel to one or more of those few.
  • Collaborative Digitization effort is under way
    Probably 3 of the 4 or 5 largest catalog collections in the US
    Anderson Horticultural Library, University of Minnesota
    Massachusetts Horticultural Society
  • Where do the digitized catalogs go?
    Seed & nursery catalogs from all 3 collaborators part of BHL
    All free and open access
  • Quick overview of BHL site
    Note link to ‘Collection’
  • Update, if using this screen
  • I just showed some very attractive and colorful catalog images.
    But, that’s not the way they all were
    Here focusing on American firms and catalogs.

    Rochester played a large role in these improvements
    Printing industry and seed & nursery industry were very prominent
  • Example of multi-page all text catalog
    J. B. Russel’s Catalog of Garden Seeds, 1827, Boston
    http://biodiversitylibrary.org/bibliography/80187#/summary
  • Probably mostly used for salesmen’s plate books
  • Chase Brothers, Rochester, NY 1891
    A. Currie & Co, 1923
  • More than just seed and plants
  • From my personal chicken waterer collection
  • What does Purposeful Gaming have to do with BHL and more specifically seed and nursery catalogs??
  • Explain OCR
  • Sample of poor OCR output from an 18th century publication.
    This page is from Linneaus' Species Plantarum published in 1753
    An image of the original text is on the left. The OCR is on the right
  • Like reCaptcha
  • 2 games,
    1 for gamers and 1 for non-gamers
    both are beta, release date is Tuesday, June 9
    Beanstalk is for non-gamers
    Smoreball is for gamers
  • Overview of the
    --seed and nursery catalog digitization
    --purposeful gaming

    And how you can contribute to improving discovery in digital collections
  • Carol handles all the catalogs and is meticulous with the details

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