We have been making steady progress with the digitisation of the British Parliamentary papers relating to New Zealand. New Zealand Micrographics were selected to scan and OCR the papers for us and this new partnership was kicked off with an audioconference to discuss the project and refine the details. Many questions were asked and answered, and we all came away feeling more knowledgeable and positive about where we are heading. In order to get the papers to Wellington, New Zealand Micrographics said they would despatch a baby freight container. When it arrived we decided if this was the baby one we did not want to see the grown up version! Our project papers filled approximately one third of the box but with plenty of packaging to tuck them in they were on their way south.
A pilot set of papers have been scanned, passed Quality Control and had the OCR completed. We were impressed with the clarity of the images and agreed that the OCR was sufficiently accurate. We were chomping at the bit, ready to get on with the mass scanning by this time, but there were still some questions to consider, particularly around the file naming and the handling of the non-standard pages (e.g. foldout maps). Eventually, these were resolved after a good number of emails flew along the wires. We really appreciated the input of New Zealand Micrographic Services here, as their experience and suggestions enabled us to make some quick decisions, particularly around the tricky nomenclature issues.
While NZMS started scanning in earnest, back in the Library we were thinking about the search parameters and web interface for the digital collection. National Library’s webpage for their Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives project was launched recently and we were all impressed by its layout and ease of use. Given the similarity of the two projects and our intention to also use Greenstone software, it seems sensible that we should produce a webpage similar in style and function. (We are also great proponents of the library philosophy of making use of shared expertise and not reinventing the wheel!) The master access images have recently arrived from New Zealand Micrographics so we now have two big tasks ahead of us – to combine (and in some cases breakup) page images to create printable PDFs of each despatch, and to proofread and carry out essential edits of the OCRed text.
It definitely feels that we are making progress.