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Crowdsourcing Consortium for Libraries & Archives (CCLA) Kicks Off with Inaugural Meeting in Boston

September 24, 2014

By Christina Manzo
CCLA Research Fellow
Tiltfactor Laboratory at Dartmouth College

The new Crowdsourcing Consortium for Libraries and Archives (CCLA), a national initiative funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and initiated by Tiltfactor’s director, Mary Flanagan, and Dartmouth archivist Peter Carini, kicked off on September 10, 2014, with a working meeting held at the Boston Public Library in partnership with Tom Blake and the BPL Digital Projects Lab. The CCLA aims to forge a national partnership to examine how crowdsourcing technologies, tools, and platforms can help institutions such as libraries, museums, galleries, and archives, augment their collections and enhance user experiences. The inaugural event in Boston was the starting point for this exciting endeavor and served to lay the foundation for CCLA’s activities, including a series of upcoming meetings and webinars.

The meeting  brought together an eclectic, passionate team of 20 experts from a variety of fields, including the humanities, library and information science, education, and the physical and social sciences. Participants also came from a wide variety of institutions, including the Library of Congress, DPLA, NYPL Labs, Cornell University and many others.

Over the course of the day-long event, the assembled group engaged in spirited in-depth discussions centering on the big-picture goals and issues to be tackled by CCLA, including:

  • Fundamental issues about crowdsourcing itself (e.g., How do we define crowdsourcing? Which audiences and institutions should CCLA target?);
  • The best means of collecting and sharing the current platforms, tools, and initiatives with target audiences and stakeholders (e.g., What criteria should we use to recommend particular platforms or tools? How can we ensure that the conversation between audiences is bi-directional?); and
  • Key challenges faced by any institution seeking to implement crowdsourcing (e.g., How can we vet or evaluate crowdsourced data? How can we encourage sharing of tools and systems, particularly for institutions with limited staff or technological resources?).

These conversations were informed in part by the results of a “call for feedback” survey administered prior to the meeting. The survey, which attracted over 300 respondents within the first week, focuses on identifying key areas of interest, challenges, and unanswered questions about crowdsourcing tools, procedures, and research. Responses overall revealed a great deal of interest in crowdsourcing and its potential for gathering new knowledge, and widespread eagerness to learn from others’ experiences and insights for using crowdsourcing tools and platforms.

By the end of the day, four key focus areas (or “work streams”) emerged organically from the group’s discussions: (1) Crowdsourcing Tools and Projects, (2) User Engagement, (3) Evaluation of Tools and Data, and (4) Crowdsourcing “Ecosystems.” Teams formed around these four areas and began the groundwork to compile shareable resources (such as white papers or repositories) for each, which will eventually be added to the initiative’s newly launched website ( and help frame CCLA’s upcoming meeting and webinars.

Stay tuned to the latest CCLA news and get updates on upcoming events by following us on twitter: @crowdconsortium.

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