JC 1910 Project Management

Jersey City 1910: Project Management

The three greatest challenges inherent in this project are selection, metatdata tagging and presentation. The selection challenge stems from the extreme diversity of materials under consideration for the project. By its nature, this project cannot undertake to digitize all possible documents in the JC Public Library's special collections associated with the city in 1910. This project is intended more as an educational tool than as an access tool.

For the above reason, the selection phase of the project will be slated to take two months or more (TBD— aiming for a 2010 launch). During this phase, the selector/curator will work in partnership with the library and a consultant digitization specialist to select representative collections from the various available resources geared toward the project's themes and targeted groups.

During this phase, the curator and digital specialist consultant will also consider possible options for presenting the material including downloadable open-source exhibition programs like Omeka ( see project site in partnership with George Mason's Center for History and New Media at http://omeka.org/) vs. the cost of hiring a designer/developer to create a public interface for the project. By the end of this first period, the system or developer will also be selected.

An additional staff person would be helpful at this stage of the process for the purpose of outreach to Jersey City schools and partnership planning for the 350th anniversary of Bergen. A city-wide celebration of that anniversary would be the key to the website's educational success.

The next phase of the project will involve scanning the selected objects. Here, the object type will determine the scanning procedure. For example, postcards will be routinely scanning on both sides to provide access to image as well as relevant written content. Maps will be scanned in such a way that users can zoom in to read each part of the map legibly. (Here is where it is useful to already know what kind of technology will be used for presentation of the collection. What are the zooming capabilities? Can the technology knit together a composite image from parts?) Newspapers will have front page articles, community sections, classified adds and other advertisements scanned for selected days in each month. If allowed within the project's budget, three trained scanning technicians will be hired for this portion of the project. The digital consultant will be in charge of selecting the scanning technicians according to agreed upon skill sets.

Scanned images will be saved on a dedicated server accessed remotely by project workers. This server will likely be hosted by a company specializing in web hosting. The monthly fee will be considered in the project budget. Each scanned item will be quality controlled by the curator prior to moving on to the next phase of development. (Is this a feasible proposition?) Ultimately, it might be helpful to consider a hosting partnership uniting the Jersey City Public Library, the New Jersey Digital Highway and an organization like the Center for History and New Media or the Public History Resource Center.

During the next phase of the project, a team of catalogers will work on plying the scanned digital collections with metadata encompassing best practices for media type as well as specialized links to project target groups and themes. The curator will likely need to work with Ancestry.com to obtain rights to use their scanned Jersey City Federal Census records from 1910. Catalogers will then need to transcribe and tag the records for use in the site infrastructure. At the same time, the curator will work with subject specialists to construct document-based sample exhibits keyed to the targeted groups tied with the project themes. The curator will also work with an educational specialist to hone exhibit tone and level of detail for students.

Once all the leg work is done, a site prototype will be created for a final quality control check. The site will be launched in conjunction with activities in the Jersey City schools to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the oldest part of the city. Student feedback will be recorded by teachers and reported back to the project manager so that they site can be improved. As time goes on, the site may be expanded to provide more detailed research opportunities for students.

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