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Games with a purpose


Can digital games help academic research? Through a new crowdsourcing initiative with the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), Cornell University Library and several partners are about to find out.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded $449,641 to the Missouri Botanical Garden and partners at Cornell, Harvard University and the New York Botanical Garden to create the project.

Cornell’s contribution will be digitizing seed and nursery catalogs from Cornell’s world-class collection from the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium and housed in Mann Library’s Special Collections. The collection contains more than 136,000 items and was curated for over 70 years by Ethel Z. Bailey, daughter of Liberty Hyde Bailey.

The digitized images will go to BHL, which is creating a game that allows the public to correct errors in computer-generated optical-character recognition of the text. Ultimately, the project will demonstrate whether digital games are an effective tool for analyzing and improving digital outputs, which will help searching and discovery in online collections.

BHL is an international consortium of the world’s leading natural history libraries that have collaborated to digitize the public domain literature documenting the world’s biological diversity. Cornell University Library joined the organization in 2012.