Project Management and Workflow

The proposal will ask for funding for a Project Manager and a Project Archivist to cover eighteen months. Additional help will be sought from interns through related NYU academic programs. Interns will gain experience creating preservation quality digital images, conducting research, and helping to build the online collection, in exchange for a commitment of 10-15 hours a week.

The Project Manager will be responsible for managing the relationship with the host institution, which is Tamiment. He/she will also be responsible for purchasing equipment and overseeing its use, maintenance, and repair, securing and managing relationships with the authors who will write the historical and critical essays, and managing the workflow of the Project Archivist and Intern. The Project Manager will have ultimate responsibility for the integrity of the individual digital images and their corresponding metadata, and the collection as a whole, as well as its online interface.

The Project Manager will prepare a processing manual for the project, outlining and specifying guidelines for digital image capture and metadata creation. He or she will have a background in both photography and archives, with knowledge and experience in the creation of digital exhibits/collections, and content creation platforms like Omeka. The Project Manager will also be familiar with issues of digital preservation and copyright. The Project Manager will work with an outside design consultant, and the University’s technical support services, to create the body of the site.

The Project Archivist is responsible for creating preservation quality scans of the negatives, which number around 5,000. He/she is also responsible for entering metadata for each image, including information in the name, date, place and subject fields. When no information for these fields exists, he/she will do research to try to secure this information to an appropriate degree. The Project Manager will check the integrity of the scans and metadata on a regular basis, and ideally in batches.

If it is possible to get an intern to help out, he/she could assist in making scans and entering in metadata. It may also be beneficial to divide up the process of scanning and metadata creation, between the Project Archivist and Intern, so that for example, the intern can enter in Subject headings for images after the Project Archivist has scanned them in and entered the more apparent data. This will allow the workflow to move at a steadier pace, and also allow for more in depth description.

An Advisory Board will consist of a knowledgeable archivist from Tamiment, a recognized labor historian, a historian/curator of photography, a member of NYU’s Digital Imaging lab, a member of NYU’s Preservation and Conservation Department, and a perhaps a member of the Communist Party’s historical or archival department. The advisory board will be consulted on issues relating to accuracy, contextualization and presentation.

Tamiment will provide space for the project at its Cooper Square location, where the collection is housed. Because the materials are fragile and of high value all scanning will take place onsite. The project will build on Tamiment’s knowledge base and expertise with the materials, and it is possible that the Project Manager will be someone who already has experience processing the collection. Basic equipment will be purchased with money obtained through the grant, however Tamiment/NYU will provide desk space, computers and Internet connections, as well as technical support. There will also be close consultation between the individuals working on the project and NYU’s Digital Imaging Lab.

Photos will be scanned and backed up daily. Scanning will be according to standards set at the beginning of the project, which will necessarily be adjusted as the project goes forward, and experience is gained with the material. Standards will be outlined in the processing manual prepared by the Project Manager (possibly in consultation with the Digital Imaging Lab) who will have expertise in digital image capture and preservation. There will be close consultation between the Project Archivist and Project Manager, and the Project Manager will review images on a regular basis.

Each negative will have a digital ID, which will correspond to a number attached to the document in the original finding aid. Once images are approved they will be uploaded to the platform (possibly Omeka) with metadata.

The site will go live once the design and infrastructure are set and there are a high percentage of negatives, but not necessarily all of them, entered in. Part of the site will contain a blog with interesting items highlighting new additions, historical facts, and stories connected to the pictures. This will give the site the feeling of something that is constantly developing. The Intern can assist with the creation of content for the blog.

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