Today I uploaded the last batch of images that make up the Architecture section of the Conway Library to our World Architecture Unlocked project on Zooniverse. This is an incredible milestone for our digitisation project and not one we set ourselves from the start.
As I mentioned in our earlier post on launching World Architecture Unlocked, being able to capture item-level metadata for the Conway Library came as a surprise: we knew we would only have time and resources to capture box and folder level metadata on the premises, and although Zooniverse had been on our radar for a long time, crowdsourcing was something we thought we wouldn’t be able to look into until after we’d delivered the digitised collection online and closed the project.
Yet, the national lockdown meant that we could focus on remote activities and although I had no studio to take new photographs, I had a lot of time and access to thousands of images volunteers had already taken.
Since the launch of World Architecture Unlocked, the response of the public has been quite unimaginable. To this day, almost 8,000 volunteers have participated in the transcription, completing the task 343,239 times. The forum where the project is discussed is lively and participants post their questions, flag items that need to be rotated or appear to be in the wrong box, and chat about their favourite images. Some of our in-person volunteers have become forum moderators and advise new participants on how to best complete the task or refer them to a member of staff.
This project might have unlocked the world of architecture for people in lockdown, allowing them to volunteer and see the world through our images, but it has certainly done the same for us at the Courtauld, by opening our horizons to the enormous potential of crowdsourcing and the wonderful feeling of having put together a global community.
And so it is with amazement and thrill that today I upload the images for the last box in the Architecture section, simply labelled “CON_B04435: Great Britain (Architecture, 21st Century)”, and finish releasing the first section of the Conway Library to the World Architecture Unlocked users.
This last release is a large one, and it will take the volunteers some time to complete. In the meantime, back of house, we are testing new workflows for some of the next sections, so keep your eyes peeled for new updates.
Did you know?
- The first section of the Conway Library is dedicated to Architecture and is made of 4435 boxes
- The first box in the collection is CON_B00001 and is labelled “Afghanistan: A-Z (Architecture, pre-1800)”
- The two sections immediately after Architecture are Architectural Drawings and Architectural Publications
- Sculpture is the second largest section of the Conway Library, it is made of 2654 boxes
- The third-largest section is Manuscripts, with 1477 boxes
- The remaining sections are: Photographic and Video Art, Applied Arts, Mosaics, Panel Paintings and Painted Screens, Wall Paintings, and Stained Glass.
- It takes three different transcriptions on Zooniverse for an item to be retired, this allows us to capture data more reliably, but it also means that we triplicate the effort!
- You too can participate in this project, just go to https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/courtaulddigital/world-architecture-unlocked, create a profile and start transcribing
Digitisation, Database and Cataloguing Manager