Transcribathon Engages Community

The District Council of Lower Eyre Peninsula partnered with the Cummins School Community Library to transcribe historical minute books dating from June 1899 onwards. Volunteers with skills in reading copperplate script were mentored by the library history collection officer and Council staff to transcribe minutes using the online transciption platform FromThePage. Photos of the original minutes were taken using an Ipad and Photomyne application which reduced the amount of handling and transport required for each document. Transcriptions are exported and embeded in the District Council’s website where they are available to the public.

The original vision had been to have a series of community history meetings at the library each month (9 in total) to assist volunteers with reading and transcribing, with opportunities to work with Cummins Area School students while supporting social connections and digital literacy skills for all participants, but Covid-19 restrictions meant fewer sessions were held. To assist volunteers a Messenger group was established to enable questions and issues to be raised and provide encouragement to volunteers as they continued to work from home. This proved extremely successful as it enabled volunteers to remain connected with each other and the project while abiding by public health guidelines. The online platform which enabled participants to log in from the safety of their home office to continue their with transcriptions was a silver lining at a time when social isolation was having a negative impact on the mental health of many. During this project 173 total works have been uploaded to FromThePage, made up of 763 individual pages. Many hundreds of pages have been transcribed by more than 20 collaborators. The first few years of minute books are available so far on the District Council’s webpage accessible here.