Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Maine Memory Network, part 2

Last week I posted an introduction to the Maine Memory Network. The about section on the site uses the phrase "Distributed Input, Dynamic Output". And remarkably there is no charge to the contributors or users; it is all free. But what do they mean by distributed and dynamic?

The Maine Memory Network has been constructed in such a way that many organizations can contribute to it. Well over 100 organizations have done just that. For some, this has allowed them to have a web presence for their collections. Contributing Partners, who are given an administrator password to the site, can upload, edit and catalogue items, and manage those items once they are part of MMN. Besides having a presence for their collections, Contributions Partners are able to learn about digitization. They receive training on how to digitize and how to catalogue their items to meet the Network's standards. (Records are reviewed, so the Network does maintain quality control.)

By having all of these Contributing Partners, the input becomes distributed. No one institution bears the burden for scanning or cataloguing the records, making the input of more than 6,000 primary documents a manageable task.

On the opposite end, users can create their own albums within the project to store images that interest them. As the site says, users can:
  • Save images to return to later
  • Add text and rearrange images to tell a story
  • View the album as a slideshow
  • Send the album as an email and collaborate
  • Create your own uses

This gives the users tremendous flexibility. Each user can interact with the images in different ways. Users become active participants in the site. Isn't this what all users want?!

The Maine Memory Network is a wonderful example of what is possible in building a large project that includes the contributions of many institutions and gives users the ability to interact with the materials as they see fit. It is a project that should been seen by everyone who is involved in digitization. Perhaps they won't emulate it, but they may derive some inspiration from it.

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