This project was first conceived in 2003 with the goal of providing Web access to the remarkable C. Patrick Labadie collection of 19th century maritime data on the Great Lakes. It is owned by NOAA through the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary but housed and maintained by Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library. One-time funds were requested and received from the Library of Michigan to cover the design and development of a database, research, scanning, data entry and other project costs. The vessel collection portion of Labadie's works was selected for digitizing. There are no copyright restrictions on the photographs plus the geographic area selected would be of high use to our primary clientele as well as of great interest to off-site users.
The challenge was to develop both the software and the methodology to catalog the over 15,000 vessels and 65,000 images contained in the C. Patrick Labadie Collection.
This project began in late 2005 with 3 days of meetings at the Alpena County Library.
During these days, all of the project stakeholders from the Alpena County Library, the Thunder Bay Sanctuary, and The Breneman Group gathered and began to discuss how to capture the Labadie Collection efficiently, accurately, and within the scope of the grant provided by the Library of Michigan. It was during these days that most of the concepts we are using today were developed. After we had worked out most of the data and system requirements we turned to workflow; How would we move from a room full of paper files and photographs to the database and electronic image requirements we had just discussed? We settled on a three-stage process: First, the individual vessel files would be summarized on a worksheet that mirrored the database entry screens and the images would be identified. Second, this information would be reviewed by Pat Labadie to insure its accuracy. Finally, the data from the worksheet would be entered into the database and the images would be scanned and cataloged. This process insures that the information is accurate and the data is transferred from paper file to database efficiently and also leaves as a byproduct an excellent, organized paper record of each file. The software was designed and developed by Brian Breneman over the course of approximately 5 months and we began digitizing about 6 months after the initial meetings. Since beginning, we have made some minor adjustments to the software, have added additional storage space for the rapidly expanding image collection, and have dealt with the complex task of backing up such a large collection of images. However, the core methods and software we developed at the outset of the project have proven durable.
For more information about this software contact Brian Breneman of The Breneman Group at 513-221 -1934
For More Information...
The Alpena County Library
and The Breneman Group
have made this software available
as a commercial product.
Contact Marlo Broad @ 989-
356-6188 or Brian Breneman
The C. Patrick Labadie Collection Application Architecture
The application we developed for managing the Labadie Collection is really two distinct applications that share one database. One application is web-based and is designed to allow users to enter information about vessels from anywhere that has internet access. This is crucial for recording research from remote locations.
The second application is the scanning and image cataloging application. This application shares the database with the web application and handles the more technically complex process of scanning, manipulating, and cataloging the images. This is a Windows-based desktop application that integrates directly with scanners via the industry-standard TWAIN interface. All of the images are acquired and processed within the application at the same time as meta-data is entered. Three versions of each image are created (thumbnail, medium resolution jpeg, and TIFF) and the images are automatically stored and cataloged on the server.
The database is the open-source PostgreSql Server (version 8.x) database hosted on a Windows 2003 server on the Alpena Library’s network. This database was chosen because of it’s technical superiority, flexible licensing scheme, and ease of integration with other applications and platforms.
Both of the applications mentioned above are written in C# on the Microsoft .Net 2.0 platform and the web application is hosted on a Windows 2003 Server at the Alpena County Library.
One of the best aspects of this application suite is the integrated imaging application. This
application allow image acquisition, editing, cleanup, and meta-data cataloging to happen
in one seamless process. The integrated workflow insures that users do not have to switch
from one application to another to another to capture the image, edit it, and catalog it.
Features such as the built-in preview mode allow the user to acquire only the portion of the scanning bed that is required to capture the image. Since most of the images we are dealing with are approximately 4” x 6”, this saves a tremendous about of time and editing. The application also automatically generates thumbnails and medium-resolution (web-ready) versions of the original 1200 dpi TIFF file and transfers all of them to a algorithmically determined folder structure on the server. All file transfer is done with the standard FTP protocol and is handled transparently by the application.
Pre-Processing the Data and Images
The key to the whole process turned out to be the development of a 2-page worksheet. As we discussed the logistics of transferring the Labadie Collection to the database and maintaining the quality of the information, we hit on the idea of a worksheet that would mirror the database entry screen. This allowed us to train a small group of researchers to analyze the data and prepare the information for review and cataloging without worrying about translating it immediately to the database. Some of the scanning and data entry workstations for the Labadie Project.
Thanks go to Brian Breneman, database designer who helped guide us through this project. His input and insistence on maintaining high standards resulted in obtaining truly archival quality images and data. Equal thanks goes to Marlo Broad, Special Collections Librarian for coordinating all facets of the project and C. Patrick Labadie for developing the collection in the first place and then having the insight to donate it to NOAA with the goal of making it accessible to the public.
Please direct any questions about this project to either:
Special Collections Librarian
Alpena County Library
211 N. First
Alpena, MI 49707
989/356-6188 ext 17