As the Chief Technology Officer for the National Institute for Newman Studies (NINS), Daniel was searching for a team to help build an application to list, search and display digitized collections of books, letters, diaries, and other handwritten and published materials pertaining to St. John Henry Newman and his contemporaries. Daniel was very clear about the technology stack and wanted a team with a good grasp on Angular, NodeJS, MongoDB and Elasticsearch.
The National Institute for Newman Studies has over 250,000 images of 19th and 20th-century letters, diaries, photos, music scores, and books, but they were kept in packed boxes and cupboards. Hence, they were not easily available to scholars and the public to read, explore and learn more about John Henry Newman. The second challenge for the institute was how to make this digitized data available in a robust way for users, and to have a way for scholars to keep adding digitized data.
Daniel presented several options based on existing solutions from other similar organizations, but pre-existing solutions did not meet all of their use-case scenarios. Hence our team worked with Daniel and his team to combine all the required features in a single application.
1. We integrated an open-source editor for curators to upload documents and manage collections for public access.
2. We integrated OCR to convert uploaded images into searchable text to save time on manual data entry of transcriptions.
3. We integrated an open-source document viewer that utilizes the IIIF protocol for users to view and share digitized documents.
4. We integrated Elasticsearch to provide a seamless searching experience to users as they browse over 40 terabytes of data.
Now NINS curators have their own portal to upload scanned documents--images and metadata--with facilities to create well-organized and searchable collections of items related to St. John Henry Newman. Earlier if they had done it manually it would have taken them years to get all this data digitized.
The readers now have access to rare documents and data that were difficult to access previously.
Open Source Academic Software for Digital Humanities
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