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Labeling Library Archives Is a Game at Dartmouth College

Professor Mary Flanagan wants students to go online and label library archives – for free.

Ms. Flanagan, a digital-humanities professor at Dartmouth College, is creating an Internet-based game in which users create descriptive tags for library images to improve searching through the library’s database. Although the program will be tested at the college’s library, Ms. Flanagan says the game will be open source and available for others to download and build upon.

She says the program could save libraries time and money. “It’s costly and time consuming to go in and add keywords,” she says. “If you create a game where people actually are actually getting points for generating metadata, you create a system of motivation and a fun way of doing this kind of stuff that people, it turns out, will do for free.”

The two-dimensional game will show an image, and players will have to enter words that describe it. As players race the clock, they will receive points when their phrase matches another person’s.

“Knowing the Dartmouth folks, we’re going to get some really in-depth research as the game progresses,” Ms. Flanagan says. “It will bring out a competitive edge to knowledge.”

The project received $49,015 from the National Endowment for the Humanities and is expected to be completed by next summer.

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