American Textbooks Project Management and Workflow

Institutional Host
I am using materials from the New York Public Library, so ideally I would like them to "host" me - I think it is the best place for an archive that has to do with books (form following function), and it still has that scholarly cache to it. The NYPL would also benefit from having these books digitized, as they are now housed offsite and it is a process to request them and have them delivered, and only be able to view them on the premises; plus, some are very delicate. (Maybe the site being hosted by NYPL would also encourage students to actually go to the library and not rely solely on internet research). If the NYPL was unable to host me however, I think the next appropriate venue would be through the Social Studies Teaching and Learning department at an academic institution (for instance, NYU) or perhaps another college like Ramapo that already has their own collection of old textbooks. I would like to try and get additional funding from a group that supports different education initiatives, perhaps like Carnegie. Additionally, I would try to get some funding from large textbook publishers, especially as I have a "what do textbooks look like now" section. At any rate, having a host in the New York metropolitan area would be key to cutting down on expenses like travel, freeing up the budget for other things.

Digitization Process
I would assemble a group to choose which texts to include of the estimated 500; ideally, I would like at least 4-5 for each decade. I expect this group to consist mostly of social studies teachers, along with an American history historian, a representative from a textbook publisher, and perhaps someone from NYPL. Once chosen, the entire text would be scanned. Some of these books are delicate, but the font is easy to read and the pages are not oversized, so we would not need a special scanner. Each textbook would be coded as the first 5 letters of the author's last name plus year, with additional coding for each chapter. Thus, the entire text would be available on the site. I would then like to transcribe individual chapters for better searching capabilities. I do not anticipate being able to have all these done at once; I think the site would still be useful if, at first, only chapters on the Civil War were available in detail, with more being added over time. I think as soon as we had the agreed upon number of selections for each decade on the given event, we could launch the site, and go from there.

While transcribing the texts, we will need to be reading closely to identify which keywords we need to use for search purposes. From the beginning, I would like the search capability on this project to be high. This is especially important for terms that are cross-referenced, so students can see, for instance, how terms like "savages" were frequently interchangeable with Indian, and when Native American began to appear instead.

I would like to use Omeka for this site, especially as it does not require a great deal of technological proficiency and is relatively simple to add to and maintain. Omeka uses DublinCore, which is acceptable for text.

Staff positions
Project Director and Manager: I would be filling this position, given my academic credentials in American History and the History of Education; I would submit grant proposals, choose and run the staff, decide when new phases of the site were ready to launch, and convene the board when necessary.

Advisory Board: as stated above, I would rely mostly on social studies teachers for this, along with a representative from a textbook publisher, an academic with a Ph.D in American History, and if NYPL hosts us, a representative from there. Aside from helping choose the initial texts, they would serve as experts for developing lesson plans and on the subject of American history in general. For the more corporate members of the board, they could help network and drum up financial support when needed. Thus, they would not just be nominal positions.

Full-time staff: I would like another person with a background in American history and/or teaching to be familiar with both the subject and the documents themselves, and the way they are being used. This is a person who would periodically be able to run searches and make sure that the results coming up are appropriate. They would assist me in proofreading, and would be with the process from the beginning so that they would be familiar with the metadata and organization.

Part time staff: to check on the site and make sure everything is working smoothly; they could also answer most questions from the "contact" link (or if not, know enough to field them to an appropriate staff member). I think this person could work from home; this would not be a daily thing, perhaps a few hours 2-3 times/week.

Student Interns: As the digitizing is not especially difficult and relatively uniform, I think I could hire student workers to do this, after training them on how the scan should appear and checking their work regularly. Ideally, this could be set up as a semester (or summer long) project so the students could see the finished fruits of their labor. The full-time staff member and I would of course check the entire document once it was finished to ensure that nothing needed to be re-scanned. Once scanned, full-time staff would collect metadata and indexing.

As the documents are easy to read and intended for high school students, I think transcription and encoding could also be accomplished by student workers, again with periodic checkpoints by full-time staff.

These students would either be paid through federal work-study or receive course credit; I would like the students to be majoring in a related field, either history, library sciences, archiving, etc., so that they would not just feel they were doing idle work. Fortunately there are enough schools in New York that this pool of students should be competitive.

IT Support: someone with technology/encoding proficiency would hired as a consultant, just to train full-time staff on technology basics and common problems and to get things up and running. Also this person would help make the site "pretty." This person could be called upon for any major technology snafus.

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