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Memory Masters

The second session of ILEAD USA 2016 is coming up July 11-14.  This is the technology session for the teams when they challenge themselves with technology classes and present the first view of their proposed solutions to community problems during a poster session. This is a great time to take a look at last year’s teams’ products!  Read about the Memory Masters team!

Memory Masters

–Submitted by Edward Wolf

The Memory Masters‘ team members include (left to right) Beth Transue from Messiah College Murray Library, Abigail Gulya from the Harrisburg Area Community College, Janet Eldred of the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library, David Runyon from Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, and Edward Wolf from the Bethel Park Public Library. Their mentor is Mary Garm (seated), System Administrator from Lackawanna County.
Memory Masters‘ team members include (left to right) Beth Transue from Messiah College Murray Library, Abigail Gulya (currently at the University of Pittsburgh), Janet Eldred of the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library, David Runyon from Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, and Edward Wolf from the Bethel Park Public Library. Their mentor is Mary Garm (seated), System Administrator from Lackawanna County.

During the course of 2015, groups of librarians from across the state gathered in Harrisburg to participate in Pennsylvania’s very first cohort of ILEAD USA.  Their goal was to develop projects which would solve local community needs through the use of participatory technology.  Through the ILEAD USA program, five different and unique projects were developed which addressed specific needs within the diverse libraries of Pennsylvania.  The topics for these projects were wide-ranging and varied and included: developing on online resource for local residents to quickly and easily access community resources; creating an online portal for helping job seekers gain the skills necessary to compete in the technological age; designing a technology-focused STE(A)M summer camp for girls; and the development of traveling resources for helping adults gain crucial literacy skills.  The fifth and final project was the Memory Masters Project, a resource designed to enable libraries to collect, store, catalog and display local history resources, regardless of format or skill level.

In determining their community need, the members of the Memory Masters group recognized that the one element which all libraries share—whether public, academic, school or specialty—was their collective, yet unique, histories as Pennsylvanians.  From the moment it was first discussed, the Memory Masters Project was envisioned as an all-in-one toolkit, designed to enable libraries and other cultural institutions to preserve and share their many rich and dynamic historical resources.

Through further discussions and refinement, the Memory Masters Project was broken down into four main areas:  to provide a system whereby communities can collect and preserve the rich history around them; to provide a way for communities to organize and describe these digitized pieces of history; to provide a place for communities to store and display their materials; and lastly, to provide a means for others to discover and use these digitized resources.

To satisfy the first objective, the Memory Masters created a guide for digitizing history.  It includes information on best practices for converting existing materials into digital formats, as well as tips and techniques for creating born-digital resources, such as oral interviews and video recordings.  In addition, it lists various software and equipment recommendations that could be used or purchased depending on an institution’s needs.

Through the generous support of the Office of Commonwealth Libraries and HSLC, the Memory Masters Project was given access to the state library’s collection management software, CONTENTdm.  A custom-designed platform was created which allows contributing institutions to both organize and describe their resources.  To aid in the description process, a comprehensive metadata stylesheet was also devised to help guide users in fully and accurately cataloging their materials.

As part of the CONTENTdm access, HSLC also created a Memory Masters Collection page on their PA Photo and Documents site.  As the entire site is stored on their servers, this gives Memory Masters contributors a safe, secure and permanent location in which to house their materials, with virtually no storage limit.  In addition, because the site is generated through CONTENTdm, the Memory Masters Collection can host materials in any standard format (picture, document, audio or video), oftentimes with the associated viewing software already built in.  And, as it is part of PA Photo and Documents, the Memory Masters Collection is fully searchable on the internet and offers users multiple ways of searching for materials (location, contributing institution, date, etc.).

To make the Memory Masters Project as simple as possible, all the materials created to address each of the objectives were collected into an easy to use Project Guide.  The Project Guide includes not only the aforementioned guide to digitizing history, but also instructions for installing and using CONTENTdm, intended to be clear and easy to follow regardless of skill level, examples of each of the main file types and a host of web resources on creating digitizing history.

Since the conclusion of ILEAD USA 2015, the Memory Masters team has been working hard at revising the initial scope of the project to align more closely to the policies and procedures of HSLC and the PA Photo and Documents Collection.  After much discussion with HSLC, the decision was made to move away from offering a ready-made collection platform and instead form a PA Photo and Documents User’s Group, offering guidance and expertise for new and existing PA Photo and Documents collection managers.  In this way the members of the Memory Masters group can take what they learned about the database regarding building a collection, developing a stylesheet and creating an overall digitized history program and offer their expertise to interested collection managers.  The hope is that this type of individualized help and support will encourage more libraries and other cultural heritage institutions to join the PA Photo and Documents collection and share the rich history that makes them who they are.

For more information on the original project, please check out the Memory Masters Project Brochure or email the group at memorymasters15@gmail.com.

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Learn more about last year’s teams and the current teams on the ILEAD USA pages of POWER Library.

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