Thursday, December 13, 2012

What ARE Citizen Scanning Projects?

Ancestry Insider asks "Did he say “citizen scanning projects”? That sounds intriguing. I wonder what that means." Source: Ancestry Insider's post titled NARA’s Bill Mayer Speaks About Genealogists. The conversation ensued on Facebook:

Ancestry Insider spotted this before I did. Do you think the digital images we shoot at NARA should be stored online and made public? Just what are "citizen scanning projects"?

Citizen scanning projects are the ones that you do on your own and then submit to the site. Easy. FamilySearch is taking in thousands, probably millions of them.

MYRT: Since Ancestry Insider happens to know many FamilySearch employees quite well, and works with them on a daily basis, I am sure he would have provided more answers in his blog post if there was an "average citizen" method for submitting our scanning projects.

Indeed, the digital image collection grows through efforts of family history missionaries throughout the world who digitize literally millions pages of documents each week. But that work is completed in their capacity as non-proselytizing missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, clearly not  average citizens.

Indeed there are volunteers at NARA who organize file contents for digitization by NARA partners such as Is this what Bill Mayer means when he says "citizens scanning projects"? See: Civil War Widows' Pension Digitization Project on NARA's YouTube Channel. The volunteers are specially trained individuals, not your average citizens either.

NARA DIGITIZATION SERVICESNARA has a staff of 45 employees responsible for digitizing some of it's collection. From this video, one  realizes digital preservation isn't a simple process.

If Ol' Myrt here were to venture a guess, "citizen scanning projects" would be where an individual researcher digitizes an ancestor's record, say a Civil War pension file. But without guidelines for file type, resolution, and an official method for submission, I am at a loss for how an average citizen is to do this at NARA or other research facilities. I would also not trust the work of anyone other than myself. What is to prevent someone from altering a document prior to scanning?

So, DearREADERS, am I terribly outta da loup? Which archive or library websites permit "citizen scanning projects"? 

Ol' Myrt here is with AI -- Just what ARE Citizen Scanning Projects" NARA's Bill Mayer describes? I guess I'll put a call into his office tomorrow.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.

Twitter: @DearMYRTLE
G+: +Pat Richley-Erickson
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  1. In the Netherlands we have a project called "from paper to digital" where volunteer genealogists photograph genealogical records and put them online. The project even won an award. Most of the archives where paper-to-digital volunteers show up are very enthusiastic and willing to cooperate. So far, 323,000 images have been captured in this project. Once online, other people will work on transcribing the records that are also published online.

    Besides 'from paper to digital', there are also many individual genealogists who take high quality photos. I do that myself, see my collection of archival documents on Flickr:

    Several archives are very enthusiastic is a genealogists shows up that wants to photograph entire records to put online. It saves the archives money and the records do not need to be handled as often which helps with preservation.

    For example, at the National Archives in The Hague we now have fixed tripods where visitors can use their own cameras to take high quality pictures. By using fixed tripods that position the camera over the table, there is no risk of tripping and no need to use flash. The pictures come out with better quality and the originals are preserved. Everybody wins!

  2. This has no direct connection with the "Citizen Scanning Projects" mentioned above, but I am doing 3 of them as a team member of just plain folks.

    CSP's, in my opinion, are very handy in getting more data out to people ESPECIALLY if they are done properly.