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Topics in Information Studies: Crowdsourcing and Libraries

What is Crowdsourcing?

According to Merriam-Webster, crowdsourcing is "the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers". Crowdsourcing happens both actively and passively - the latter via tools such as the reCAPTCHA, which capture useful data from hordes of everyday internet users, or the former which allows workers or volunteers to participate directly and intentionally in crowdsourced projects.

Will Crowdsourcing Catch on with Libraries and Archives?

Given the amount of metadata many librarians and archivists need to compile and crunch on a regular basis, crowdsourcing might seem like a natural fit for Libraries. Indeed, libraries that use patron-driven acquisition or allow tagging in their OPACs are essentially already engaging in crowdsourcing! But many libraries have been slow to adapt this technology to their needs. This is beginning to change, especially as cultural and historical archives find ways enhance their collections and increase findability of items utlizing the improved transcription and tagging functions crowdsourcing excels at.

Want to learn more?

While books specifically on the topic of crowdsourcing and libraries are few and far between at the moment, there are a number of great web resources and plenty of recent journal articles to tap into to learn more about this emerging trend. Try searching the Library's databases for interesting articles, or peruse the list of web links provided below. For help finding additional resources, touch base with Subject Librarian for Library and Information Studies, Deborah Bernnard via email, by appointment, or during office hours (Fridays, 11am-1pm).

Suggested Databases

Links to Open Access Articles, Blog Posts, & Websites

Books on Crowdsourcing in General, Available through the University Libraries

Blog Created By: Rebekah Jarvis-Girtler
Image Credit: Rebekah Jarvis-Girtler

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