The Power of Crowdsourcing: A Use Case from the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Saturday, June 29, 2013 -
2:30pm to 4:00pm

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Hall A, Exhibit Floor
Author: Gilbert Borrego, Library Technician, Smithsonian Institution - Biodiversity Heritage Library
Author: Grace Costantino, Program Manager, Biodiversity Heritage Library

How can a library with limited staff efficiently improve the discoverability and interoperability of digital assets? Answer: Crowdsource metadata enhancement! The Biodiversity Heritage Library, an open access digital library consortium, utilizes Flickr to provide access to over 60,000 images extracted from its digital collections. While bibliographic metadata is associated with these images at the time of upload to Flickr, identification of the species illustrated within each image is absent. Without these identifications, users are unable to efficiently search within image collections. Crowdsourcing offers a promising solution.

BHL staff have hosted two Flickr Tagging Parties at the Smithsonian. With guidance from BHL staff, nearly 40 Smithsonian staff added species name tags to 448 images in the BHL Flickr, resulting in a 53% increase in the number of monthly images typically tagged and a 97% increase in monthly images shared with external databases. This success has prompted BHL staff to develop formal instructional material and organize public crowdsourcing events. Not only does the tagging of images provide discoverability in BHL Flickr, but the images that are tagged are also automatically added to the Encyclopedia of Life, providing a “two birds, one stone” scenario.

Through the use of workflow diagrams, “before and after” examples, and graphs demonstrating project successes, this poster will outline the strategies employed to direct crowdsourced metadata enhancement activities. The principles guiding BHL crowdsourcing activities can be adopted by any library seeking creative ways to improve the relevance of their resources in an increasingly digital world.

Meeting Type: 
Included with conference registration
Session Materials: 
Flickr Tagging Process.jpg - Uploaded by Gilbert Borrego (Jun 14, 2013 - 147.28 KB
uploading images to Flickr.jpg - Uploaded by Gilbert Borrego (Jun 14, 2013 - 158.99 KB
Last Updated: 
Monday, June 3, 2013 - 12:46pm CDT
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Uploading Images to Flickr one sheet.

The Flickr Tagging Process one sheet.