The University of Alabama
Crowdsourcing at University Libraries
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionThe University Libraries now has two Crowdsourcing projects to allow users to "tag" or "transcribe" materials from our collections.  Crowdsourcing is defined as a distributed problem-solving and production process that involves outsourcing a task to a group of people -- it allows difficult and time-consuming projects to be tackled a bit at a time, and by a large group of individuals, working asynchronously and at their own pace.

Crowdsourcing allows users from the comfort of their own computer or mobile device to tag photographs, identifying people, places and things that were not recorded when the image was collected and not available when it was digitized. Historic University of Alabama photographs from a certain period are a snap to identify for alumni of that period.  Cryptic 19th century handwriting might be impossible to read for some, but for others it is an exciting puzzle just waiting to be decoded.  Crowdsourcing allows new roads to access materials, and a great sense of accomplishment for users.  We welcome your questions, comments, thoughts and ideas about these crowdsourcing projects.  Please contact us!

Tagging Photographs

Tag it!The University Libraries' "Tag it" project allows users from any computer around the world to add valuable information to our photograph collections! Why tag our photographs? We have thousands of digitized images in our collections! Many of these photos may lack adequate or complete descriptions of the people, places, or objects displayed. By applying your own "tags" (key words, descriptions) to our photographs, you can help us fill in the blanks and provide more thorough and accurate information for students and researchers using our collections.The tags you provide will be added to Acumen, so researchers can find material by using your search terms. The more you tag, the richer the experience for all! Try it here at

Transcribing Documents

Transcribe!Handwritten documents offer a unique challenge for users and reserachers.  Handwriting, especially  the handwriting from the 19th century or earlier, can be very difficult to decipher.  With this Transcription project, users can add valuable information to these documents by determining just what is written.  These transcriptions support full text keyword searching for the materials transcribed, thus adding scholarly value and information to the documents. For many, transcription is like a puzzle -- a great way to spend a few hours or a few minutes.  Try it here at