Waterfront Project - Management Plan

As with most projects, the first stage of this project will be to seek affiliation and a source of funding. Aside from applying for grants from educational programs like the NEH or NHPRC, this project will also seek affiliation through New York University and the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive. These organizations house the majority of the documents that will be used in this collection and it is of interest to both them and the project itself that a quality project is produced in relation to the collection. Also, affiliation with Tamiment can be an avenue through which the project can seek support from various unions, organizations, or individuals interested in funding labor, leftist, and New York history. Along those lines this project will also seek union support particularly from the International Longshoremen's Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Contributions from these organizations will hopefully be not only monetary but in the form of historical documents and eventual participation from its members (current and past).

The next important point of the project will be the selection, scanning, and metadata process. The size and scope of the ILA collection at the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive is not so large as to be intimidating in terms of the selection process. The tricky parts will be finding good portions of the Waterfront Commission Report, good editorials, cartoon, and ads from The New York Longshoremen, and finding the most exciting and relevant clippings from various media outlets. The entire selection process could take a couple months, but should not necessitate much more than two staff members aware of the history and the intended scope of the project.

The scanning will be done on a basic flat scanner. Few, if any, of the documents face immediate preservation concerns that would make scanning difficult and few, if any, of the documents will be oversized to the point that they are difficult to scan on a scanner which can handle at least ledger size documents. All documents will be scanned at high dpi as color documents and conform to best standards. The idea is to have a high quality archival TIFF and JPEG for each document. Whether lower resolution JPEGS will be used for the website will be a question addressed later on in the process, probably at the point of layout and design. Naming conventions for the files should be established at the start of this process and should be mindful that there will be some documents that will have more than one page to them.

Standards for tagging and metadata will be set at the beginning of the data-entry process so that much of it can be carried out by student workers who have been well instructed and given a standard guide. The heads of the project will certainly review the student work and possibly do some data entry of their own. Naming standards will NOT align with the Library of Congress EXCEPT for Person and Organization Names. Those working most intimately with the project will dictate Subject Names and other classifications. It is likely that at this stage some subject specialists in class history and New York history (such as Joshua Freeman) will be called upon for advice. This data will be entered into a Filemaker database. Filemaker provides many (if not all) of the capabilities of MS Access and makes sharing this data very easy across users. Filemaker is also likely to be compatible with much of the other data management software for internet programs, such as Omeka.

Once all the documents are scanned, tagged, and under intellectual control, the project managers and directors will begin to conceive a digital exhibit (and if the affiliated institutions should wish it so, a physical exhibition). It is important to have an idea of what the exhibit will be like in mind so that clear ideas on what is desired can be given to the designer and applied to the website. It is much more difficult to make these decisions on the other side of the web design and site initiation process. Questions will be addressed such as: What will be the categories of the exhibit? Which documents will go with which categories? At what resolution and size do we make the resolutions available? Also, text will be generated to provide context and background for the major (and some of the minor) portions of the exhibit.

The eventual website will be powered by Omeka. Omeka can provide a simple and clean layout for an online exhibit, a way of storing many different types of images, documents, audio, and video, an interested and developing community of users, and technical support from one of the leading institutions in digital history. Using Omeka will also help to get the ILA and ILWU more involved in the project as it will provide a venue for longshoremen, warehousemen and stevedores to share stories relative to the history of working on the docks.

Working with Omeka means that the Center for History and New Media might be able to also lend support in terms of designing the website. This will probably be the most desirable way to design the website as the CHNM has an eye for historical website design and a sensibility towards academic and technological rigor. But at that stage of the project, it will be important to keep options open. It is possible that the CHNM crew working with Omeka will have pulled design support or will be busy working on design for other Omeka users. There are a handful of other design groups out there willing to do pro bono work for educational or community beneficial websites and it will be important for the project to keep these groups in mind when it is ready to set up a webpage.

Necessary hardware and software for this project includes a flat scanner, Filemaker Pro, Photoshop, Omeka, and a computer (and external hard drive) which can handle these programs and backup all the files. While Omeka is free and a flat scanner (and even a decent sized external hard drive of 300-500G) can be secured for relatively cheap, it should be important to secure a powerful computer that can run these programs in conjunction with each other without difficulty. Deals can still be found in this regard, but compromise should be made which favors performance rather than price. Necessary staff will include a full time Project Manager/Director with at least one full-time assistant and at least two part-time student workers during the scanning and tagging portion of the project (if not other portions as well).

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