Section One - Event Planning
Section Two - Outreach
Section Three - Event Overview
Section Four - Educational Resources
Section Five - Assessment
Section Six - Resources
At community scanning events, we bring our mobile digitization kit to library branches and invite residents to bring in photos, documents and memorabilia. We scan the materials, which are returned to the donors with a flash drive of digital copies. The digital files are then included in the digital archives of our respective repositories, as well as ingested into the Digital Public Library of America. Our role in this process includes: selecting locations, scheduling events, doing outreach and collaborating with partners, facilitating the events, and doing the post-event cataloging and ingest of materials into our digital repositories.
We hope this toolkit will serve as a valuable resource for individuals and organizations interested in launching community scanning events in their area.
The content in the Community Section of this toolkit was authored by Sarah Quick and Maggie Schreiner, Culture in Transit Mobile Digitization Specialists for Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Public Library, respectively.
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The planning for a community scanning event should begin 3-4 months in advance of the anticipated event date. Timing considerations include: internal deadlines for promotional materials, needs of any community partners, and availability of staff and equipment. Please see our event planning checklist for more details.
When selecting a location for a community scanning event, consider the following:
Identify gaps in archival collections and match with neighborhoods and /or communities that could help fill those gaps.
Reach out to branch librarians and local groups to gauge interest in possible events.
Explore existing institutional relationships with community organizations, and consider extending these partnerships to the community history project.
Develop partnerships with local groups working on community history projects.
Work with local Friends of the Library groups for event planning and outreach.
Return to neighborhoods that have previously been successful.
Once a location is selected to host a community scanning event, a site visit is necessary to assess the space and meet the staff. On the day of the event, we’re occupying a portion of their library for several hours, so it’s important the branch staff knows what to expect and what their role will be. Topics that should be covered with the librarian during this initial visit include:
Work with the librarian to choose a date for the scanning event that won’t conflict with other library programs. Alternatively, a date that coincides with a complimentary program might increase turnout.
Ask the librarian to suggest days and times when the library is usually busy.
Aim to schedule events in pairs, or a short series of events. The first event can serve as effective outreach for the following events at the same locations.
Consider target audience when scheduling events. If you are aiming for older adult participation, be sure to schedule events during daylight hours.
Be sure to avoid religious and school holidays.
The site visit is a good time to collect contact information for any community leaders or groups that might be interested in the project.
Ask the librarian to begin identifying patrons that might be interested in participating.
Request a meeting with the library’s Friends Group, or the opportunity to speak at any relevant upcoming event(s).
Determine language needs of the branch’s local communities.
Decide who will produce the promotional materials.
Will materials need to made available in multiple languages?
Is there a space in the library to hang or distribute materials?
Set Up Location
Assess the library’s layout, determining the best location for the digitization kit on the day of the event.
Observe patron foot traffic.
Locate electrical outlets.
When selecting a space to set up for a community scanning event, the most important factor is visibility. We’ve found that positioning ourselves in a high traffic area of the library, such as the entrance or checkout kiosk often increases our rate of walk-in participation by allowing us to:
Engage with every patron as they enter or leave the library.
Attract curious patrons with interactive features displayed on our table.
Appear more approachable.
Make potential participants feel more comfortable by first observing the digitization and donation process.
With this increase in interaction we might sacrifice the ability to customize our workspace, making do with very little square footage or access to electrical outlets. The bare minimum requirements to set up a mobile digitization kit is as follows:
Three tables is ideal, two is often realistic:
One to hold the scanner and laptop, leaving a small space for the completion of paperwork.
One for the setup of interactive displays (tablets, pamphlets, etc.).
One to set up the copy-stand (can be moved to the floor if necessary).
Each should be no shorter than 5 feet in length.
If space is at an absolute minimum:
Two tables can be eliminated by moving the copy-stand to the floor (requires 4 x 4 feet of space) and choosing to not include the interactive materials.
The scanning table can be set up in an alternate space that is physically separate from the staff members interacting with participants. Staff can ferry participant materials back and forth from the scanning station.
Only one electrical outlet is required as long as the digitization kit includes an extension cord and power strip.
Duct tape may also be required to minimize the risk of patrons tripping on the cord.
Including space for three chairs, at a minimum we need an estimated 60 square feet of space to set up our mobile digitization kit, including space for two mobile digitization specialists and a participant to sit comfortably.
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Media and Phone Banking Outreach
Many people hear about community scanning events from local community groups or branch librarians. We also get walk-ins, people who just happen to visit the library on the day of event and choose to participate after learning more. In the weeks leading up to the event we attempt to attract additional participation through:
Cold Calls and Emails
Contacting local senior centers, religious organizations and businesses in hopes that their members and customers might be interested. We ask that they support Culture in Transit by displaying or distributing our promotional materials at their location.
Providing quality JPEGs of our flier to local business and organizations for them to share on their social media accounts.
Community scanning events make great content for local and community blogs reporting on upcoming activities.
Placing an ad or suggesting an article in a local newspaper can be preferable to social media when attempting to reach a community’s senior population.
Leveraging Library Communities
In planning community scanning events we often find our best resources and advocates at the library. Individuals and groups worth reaching out to include:
Community members who serve as volunteer advocates for their branch library. These groups may be involved with fundraising and program planning, with close ties to the community.
Librarians and assistants who have existing relationships with library patrons, and are helpful in identifying individuals that might be interested in the project. Staff members should also be encouraged to participate themselves, as they are often members of the communities they serve. People respond positively to an individualized and in-person invitation to a community history event, and branch staff are in the best position to extend invitations.
Patrons who have previously attended library programs, events and activities are likely to attend community scanning events as well. We try to identify related programs such as genealogy workshops, computer classes and older adult meet-ups to hand out fliers and speak for a few minutes about the project.
Community groups serve as important liaisons between the library and the community. Creating partnerships for community scanning events can:
Increase event participation through targeted outreach.
Reach communities who might not traditionally access library services.
Assist with language support and translation, both during the events and while cataloging material gathered at public events.
Provide access to additional materials and activities that make events interactive and educational.
Lend credibility and trust to the library as a custodian of personal materials.
Focus documentation efforts on communities that are traditionally under-represented in the archive.
We believe partnering with an educational organization is one of the best ways for school-aged children to participate in community scanning projects. For these events there are a few additional details to keep in mind:
Consent Form and Introductory Letter:
The child’s legal guardian is responsible for signing the consent form. This means the form must be sent home, signed and returned to school before we arrive. We found it helpful to include an introductory letter that better explains the project and offers suggestions as what we can and cannot accept as donations.
We also send metadata forms home with the child to be filled out with their parent or guardian. Although the child is legally capable of filling out our metadata forms, we receive more accurate information if their parent or guardian assists them. It’s our hope that this assistance will also lead to a larger conversation within the family about their role in the history of the community.
Many of our participants are eager to share not only their physical items, but the stories and memories that come with a lifetime of collecting. It is a natural fit including an oral history component to our community scanning events. Both the Queens Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library have oral history projects:
A collaboration of the Archives at Queens Public Library and Queens College Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and Archives. The Queens Memory Project combines historical and contemporary photography with oral history interviews of current residents.
Our Streets Our Stories:
A division of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Outreach Services department, this project is working to collect interviews from a diverse group of Brooklyn residents, creating a neighborhood-specific oral history archive.
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A community scanning event requires at least two staff members, although three is ideal. Each should be comfortable assuming the following responsibilities:
Consent, Metadata & Feedback Collection
The consent form must be signed before any digitization or metadata collection can begin. Each staff member should be able to accurately summarize the consent form, including the copyright restrictions in plain, non-legal language.
Making sure each digitized item has a corresponding metadata sheet, filled out using information provided by the participant and the object itself.
When possible, feedback forms should be collected from participants.
Staff members in this role will be interacting directly with the public.
Using the scanner and copy-stand to quickly create archival quality digital images from a variety of items. This person is also responsible for making sure the file names adhere to their institution’s file naming conventions.
Staff members in this role will need training on equipment and procedures in advance of the event.
Interactive Activity Supervision
Please see our full breakdown of staffing responsibilities for more information.
During community scanning events, the basic flow of materials being digitized is:
For more detailed information please refer to the following documents:
We create both master and access files during events and copies of each are given to participants on a flash drive.
|Master Files||Access Files|
|Color Space||Adobe RGB||Adobe RGB|
Access files are created through an automated Photoshop action.
Each participant’s folder also contains a separate image of the color target, labeled with the date of capture.
We developed a standardized file naming convention that adheres to existing institutional standards. Information to consider when creating your file naming convention includes:
Location or date of public digitization event.
Numerical numbering of each item digitized.
Information about structure of object (such as recto, verso).
For each event, we used consent forms specific to the project:
Your consent form should be reviewed by your institution’s legal department before being implemented.
The Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library do not own copyright to any of the digital images collected at community scanning events. At the time of donation we ask participants to sign a consent form that assigns a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license to the image:
You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.
We scan each consent form, and include it on the thumb drive provided to the participant.
We use a paper version of our metadata collection form to collect metadata about each item digitized. The information we attempt to collect includes:
Date the photograph was taken.
Location of the photograph.
Name of the photographer.
Names of people who appear in the photograph.
Event taking place in the photograph.
Measurements of photograph.
Additional contextual information.
At every community scanning event we want participants to feel valued and to trust that their items will be handled with care and respect.
Steps we take to build trust include:
We make ourselves available to participants at any time leading up to and after each event. It’s important for people to know that they can always contact us with questions.
Rushing through the donation process can feel cold and impersonal. We make sure to leave enough space for participants to take their time and feel comfortable sharing their items with us. If they want to share a story about a particular item, or need a few extra minutes to remember a name, it’s our responsibility to give them the space to do so.
Options for Further Involvement
Presenting an opportunity for participants to give an oral history interview or get involved with a community group is a great way for them to continue sharing their story and working with their community.
Not Turning Anyone Away
For copyright reasons, we can’t include newspaper clippings, books, magazine articles or certain images in our collection. However, it is good practice to provide community members with a digital copy of their items to take home, even if it can’t be used for Culture in Transit.
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We include interactive public and community history activities to expose event attendees to local history materials and to provide engagement for people while they wait for their material to be scanned. Suggested activities include:
Digital slideshow of historic photographs and documents from the neighborhood, drawn from institutional archives and material collected at previous scanning events.
Oral History Listening Station
Clips of oral history interviews from the neighborhood.
Community History Mapping Station
A large map of the neighborhood, on which participants are invited to place a dot sticker with their first name where they live, as well as writing brief memories of the neighborhood on a Post-It-Note which can also be stuck to the map.
Printouts of historic photos of a neighborhood, with the location captioned on the back of the image. Participants can use a laptop or tablet to find the corresponding location on Google Street View.
Interactive outreach models.
Setting up outreach tablets.
Participants with a varying levels of technological knowledge attend community scanning events. We provide two primary resources for understanding our technology:
Preserving Your Digital Memories Brochure
This brochure is given to participants at Queens Public Library community scanning events. The pamphlet discusses why digital files require special care, provides a step-by-step guide to maintaining your personal digital archive, and provides tips for digitizing your own photographs or documents.
What’s On My Thumb Drive? Handout
This small handout explains what is on the thumb drive given to donors, and what each type of file should be used for.
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For community scanning events, we conduct two primary forms of assessment, gathering separate input from participants and from the event leaders.
This is filled out on paper form by participants, and later entered into a spreadsheet. Through this form we aim to gain metrics about outreach, who is attending our community engagement events, and their experiences in the project. We collect responses using Google Forms, and also have paper copies available at events. It is often difficult to collect participant feedback forms, as we have already asked our donors to complete a lot of paperwork during the event.
Through this form we aim to assess our event planning, attendance and realization, and improve problem areas for future events. We submit our responses through a Google Form, which we complete within a week of the event.
This form is distributed to partner organizations who co-organize events or programing series. We use this form to understand the experiences, motivations, and needs of community partners.
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Below is a list of all resources developed and used for community scanning events. These resources are located throughout this section but this list provides a quick-glance locator for the resources.
Community Scanning Blog Posts
We used our blog as a way to track progress and record our experiences throughout the project. Below are a list of posts we have written about our community scanning work that people may find useful/helpful.
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