Crowdsourcing our cultural heritage

‘Crowdsourcing our cultural heritage’ is now available in libraries or your favourite book stores.

‘This book is very readable and outlines many interesting and important projects along with considerations and potential problems such as managing and training participants and selecting appropriate technology platforms. This book will assist academics, librarians and museum staff to create crowdsourcing projects whilst also providing examples of the challenges and benefits. I would recommend it to any public organization with documents, photographs or other archival material that requires classification and tagging to allow them to share their resources with a wider audience.’

Kay Neville, (2015) “Crowdsourcing Our Cultural Heritage”, Online Information Review, Vol. 39 Iss: 4, pp.588 – 589


‘a comprehensive view of working with our communities to increase our reach and enhance our collections’

Mike Kmiec, (2015) “Crowdsourcing our Cultural Heritage”, Library Review, Vol. 64 Iss: 6/7, pp.506 – 507

Seeing the first copies arrive was lovely:

— lorna hughes (@lornamhughes) September 29, 2014

For a limited time, you can read my introduction online: Crowdsourcing Our Cultural Heritage: Introduction. Or read on for a sneak peek at what’s in store…

Crowdsourcing our Cultural Heritage

Edited by Mia Ridge, Open University, UK

Crowdsourcing, or asking the general public to help contribute to shared goals, is increasingly popular in memory institutions as a tool for digitising or computing vast amounts of data. This book brings together for the first time the collected wisdom of international leaders in the theory and practice of crowdsourcing in cultural heritage. It features eight accessible case studies of groundbreaking projects from leading cultural heritage and academic institutions, and four thought-provoking essays that reflect on the wider implications of this engagement for participants and on the institutions themselves.

Crowdsourcing in cultural heritage is more than a framework for creating content: as a form of mutually beneficial engagement with the collections and research of museums, libraries, archives and academia, it benefits both audiences and institutions. However, successful crowdsourcing projects reflect a commitment to developing effective interface and technical designs. This book will help practitioners who wish to create their own crowdsourcing projects understand how other institutions devised the right combination of source material and the tasks for their ‘crowd’. The authors provide theoretically informed, actionable insights on crowdsourcing in cultural heritage, outlining the context in which their projects were created, the challenges and opportunities that informed decisions during implementation, and reflecting on the results.

This book will be essential reading for information and cultural management professionals, students and researchers in universities, corporate, public or academic libraries, museums and archives.


‘Crowdsourcing has risen in popularity among memory institutions with stunning rapidity. However, the distribution of the methodology among libraries, archives, museums, and scientific and editorial projects presents a real challenge to researchers and practitioners. Crowdsourcing our Cultural Heritage meets that challenge very effectively. There is simply no other resource which draws together the expertise of leading crowdsourcing projects from around the world, covering diverse disciplines, participatory activities, and types of source media.’
Ben Brumfield, independent software developer,

‘Any cultural institution thinking of turning to crowdsourcing should pause and read this book first. Combining comprehensive case studies with subtle and well-informed reflection on what it means to invite contributions from a crowd, it is the first volume to seriously address a growing part of museum and archive practice.’
Chris Lintott, Principal Investigator, Galaxy Zoo and and Trustee of the National Maritime Museum, UK

If hardbacks aren’t your thing, look for e-book PDF format ISBN 978-1-4724-1023-8 or e-book e-Pub format, 978-1-4724-1024-5.

About the editor

Mia Ridge specialises in user experience design for participation and engagement in cultural heritage and the digital humanities, and has advised organisations such as the BBC, Public Catalogue Foundation, The Science Museum Group and the V&A Museum on usability, audience participation and crowdsourcing.  Mia has lead workshops teaching design for crowdsourcing in cultural heritage and academia for groups such as the British Library’s Digital Scholarship programme and the Digital Humanities 2013 conference. Her research at the Open University focuses on effective design for participatory digital history and the collaborative enhancement of historical materials.

Table of contents

Crowdsourcing Our Cultural Heritage: Introduction

Mia Ridge

Part I: Case studies

Chapter 1. Crowdsourcing in Brooklyn

Shelley Bernstein

Chapter 2 Old Weather: approaching collections from a different angle

Lucinda Blaser

Chapter 3. ‘Many hands make light work. Many hands together make merry work’: Transcribe Bentham and crowdsourcing manuscript collections

Tim Causer and Melissa Terras

Chapter 4. Build, Analyze, and Generalize: Community Transcription of the Papers of the War Department and the Development of Scripto

Sharon M. Leon

Chapter 5. What’s on the menu? Crowdsourcing at the New York Public Library

Michael Lascarides and Ben Vershbow

Chapter 6. What’s Welsh for “Crowdsourcing”?: Citizen science and community engagement at the National Library of Wales

Lyn Lewis Dafis, Lorna M. Hughes  and Rhian James

Chapter 7. Waisda?: Making Videos Findable with Crowdsourced Annotations

Johan Oomen, Riste Gligorov and Michiel Hildebrand

Chapter 8 Your Paintings Tagger: Crowdsourcing descriptive metadata for a national virtual collection

Kathryn Eccles and Andrew Greg

Part II: Theoretical reflections

Chapter 9. Crowding out the Archivist? Locating Crowdsourcing within the Broader Landscape of Participatory Archives

Alexandra Eveleigh

Chapter 10. How the crowd can surprise us: Humanities crowd-sourcing and the creation of knowledge

Stuart Dunn and Mark Hedges

Chapter 11. The Role of Open Authority in a Collaborative Web

Lori Byrd Phillips

Chapter 12. Making Crowdsourcing Compatible with the Missions and Values of Cultural Heritage Organizations

Trevor Owens