A Cursive Training Program to Improve Metadata Records for Cultural Heritage Materials




Washington, Alma
Fisher, Sarah Lynn
McIntosh, Marcia

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Texas Digital Library


Cultural heritage materials often include handwritten elements that must be deciphered by metadata creators to ensure accurate description at various levels. While the University of North Texas Digital Libraries division is undertaking projects to investigate the use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools for handwriting transcription, the accuracy and speed of these tools has not caught up to the threshold acceptable for metadata creation for our current projects: the need to describe thousands of handwritten materials on a deadline cannot not wait for AI projects to advance the work. Thus, the responsibility of deciphering those materials falls to metadata creators. The UNT Digital Projects Lab has a large group of students creating metadata who were not familiar with handwriting styles such as cursive. Once staff identified the need for training in this area, they conducted an informal survey of those working in the Lab to assess their ability and confidence to read handwritten materials. The students who reported a low confidence level – as well as others who felt they could benefit -- are participating in an online training program where they are practicing cursive. This talk will report on the program’s design, resources, and methods, as well as the number of students in the program, their experiences, and if they felt that learning to write in cursive has improved their ability to read these handwriting styles. We will also discuss how handwriting analysis and graphetics can inform the process of metadata creation for handwritten elements of these materials.


TCDL 2024 Session 5C, Wednesday, 5/22/2024, 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm | Moderated by Colleen Lyon, University of Texas at Austin | Lightning Talk | Digital Collections