Open Data for the Crowd: an Account of Citizen Science at the ETH Library

2019-06-28T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Wiederkehr, Stefan

This papers gives an account of ETH Library’s combined strategy of implementing an open data policy and making benefit of crowdsourcing for improving metadata. Both activities go hand in hand and promote each other.

ETH Library renders bibliographical metadata and digital copies publicly accessible and reusable, provided this is not opposed by any third-party rights. Open data at ETH Library pursues the following goals:

  • Open licence: whenever possible, ETH Library makes its data available using the public domain mark or a CC0 licence. If the prequisites for this are not fulfilled, an open a CC license is used.
  • Transparency: reliable re-use is indicated transparently for each dataset.
  • Currentness: ETH Library regularly updates variable datasets.
  • Freedom from discrimination: there are no access restrictions to the data. The data is available to anyone at any time and without registration.
  • Free download: the data is free to obtain.
  • Machine readability: ETH Library provides its data in an open and, whenever possible, machine-readable standard format.
  • Availability: the data is provided via a suitable interface or platform.

ETH Library’s Image Archive was the first unit to provide content for free download in high resolution. This paved the ground for a very successful crowdsourcing campaign during which citizen scientists located places, dated photographs, and identified people and artefacts. This positive experience led to further activities in diffent units. Recently, tools for georeferencing maps and aerial photographs were implemented and enthusiastically taken up by the crowd. The most recent step was offering the opportunity to transcribe archival documents.

Other important conditions for success apart from the open data policy were a conscious community management by social media channels and promoting competition within a gamification approach.