Introducing Co-Lab: your tool to collaborate on historical records

A turquoise banner with the words Co-Lab: Your collaboration tool Crowdsourcing has arrived at Library and Archives Canada (LAC). You can now transcribe, add keywords and image tags, translate content from an image or document and add descriptions to digitized images using Co-Lab and the new Collection SearchBETA.

Take on a challenge

To make it even more interesting, we will launch what we call “challenges”.  These challenges are content put together under a theme. For example one of our first challenges is on Rosemary Gilliat (Eaton)’s. Your challenge will be to transcribe her diary and describe her photographs from her Arctic travels. Or instead, try your hand at transcribing the love letters from Sir Wilfred Laurier to his sweetheart and future wife, Zoé – another challenge now available.

A screenshot of the Co-Lab Challenges page showing what challenges are available.Contribute using Collection SearchBETA

When you are conducting research using our new search tool and find images, you’ll see that you have the option to “enable this image for Co-Lab contributions”. After answering just a few short questions, you can enable an image found in Collection SearchBETA for Co-Lab use and transcribe/translate/tag/describe to your heart’s content. If an image has already been enabled for Co-Lab use, you’ll be able to add your own or edit the contributions of others’. If you create a user account, you will be able to keep track of your contribution history and be able to hear about new challenges and updates to Co-Lab.

A new way to view images

A screenshot of an excerpt of a handwritten letter in a window and on the right-hand side there’s a space to transcribe the letter and underneath is a box with the transcription status.

The launch of Co-Lab also introduces a new image viewer – which lets you scroll to zoom in on different parts of the image, or click and drag to move around the image itself. This is particularly useful when looking to transcribe or add keywords and image tags to describe small details!

What if something’s wrong?

It’s inevitable that mistakes will be made, especially when transcribing handwritten documents. Every image in Co-Lab is subject to review by other crowd members. If you see something written incorrectly, go ahead and edit it yourself, or mark it as “Needs review” for others to take a second, or third look.

The best thing about this new tool is that every contribution made by the public directly benefits fellow researchers and improves access. Every addition to a record becomes new metadata – which is searchable within 24 hours, helping LAC’s records become more “discoverable” day after day. Transcription of textual material that was previously just digital images also becomes accessible to those who use text-to-speech machines or screen readers, and translation of transcribed documents opens the door to unilingual Canadians.

For more info and frequently asked questions, you can read the About Co-Lab page. If you’re ready to start contributing, give a hand to history and try Co-Lab now.

9 thoughts on “Introducing Co-Lab: your tool to collaborate on historical records

  1. Pingback: Crowdsourcing: Library and Archives Canada Introduces Co-Lab, Add Keywords, Tags, Translations and Other Metadata to Images and Documents | LJ infoDOCKET

  2. Pingback: Introducing Co-Lab: your tool to collaborate on historical records (Libraries and Archives Canada) | ResearchBuzz: Firehose

  3. More than a decade ago I suggested a way of quickly and inexpensively copying nitrate negatives so that they could be subsequently given crowd-sourced identification. Any chance of something like this being carried out through Co-Lab or something similar?

    All the best

    Andrew Rodger

  4. Pingback: Indigenous History, Library and Archives Canada, Ancient History, More: Wednesday Afternoon Buzz, April 18, 2018 – ResearchBuzz

  5. Pingback: Introducing Co-Lab - The Ontario Genealogical Society

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