Meet the Research Assistants

Hello folks, my name is Jacob Kidd and I’ve been working on the Music Time in Africa digital archive development project since May 2016. I’d like to tell you a little about my work and the work of my fellow research assistants, Leigh Gialanella and Kaitlyn Sisk. While we are all involved in general logistics, we each have our own roles for other things. We are graduate students at the University of Michigan School of Information. 

Music Time in Africa Research Assistants: Leigh Gialanella
Photo of MTiA research assistants (fall 2016 – spring 2017), from left to right: Leigh Gialanella, Jacob Kidd, and Kaitlyn Sisk.

Leigh has been leading our quality review process for making sure the materials we’ve digitized are what we think they are, and whether the materials are of high enough quality. It’s easy for hiccups to occur when coordinating the outsourcing of digitization work. We identified 900+ audio tape reels to digitize based on various circumstantial clues, and in any experimental process like this there are always little mistakes made along the way in identifying what we have and in picking high-quality materials. Leigh’s work is integral to making sure Music Time in Africa radio programs are accurately described in our inventory. Leigh is also assembling a processing procedures manual that will help us train other School of Information students working on the project in the months ahead. 

Kaitlyn leads the way with our metadata efforts. She’s been coordinating with the rest of the team and with members of the University of Michigan Library to establish a metadata schema for our collection using Dublin Core, METS, MODS, and other metadata standards. She’s also our resident expert with ResCarta, which we are using to attach metadata records to our materials. She’s leading experiments using the ResCarta Toolkit to transcribe script images and audio files into searchable text. So far these experiments helped us decide to emphasize the text in program scripts, and set the resolution our script images need to be scanned (300 dpi/24 bit depth) to optimize OCR accuracy. 

Currently I’m helping the team with content management system administration and configuration. We’re using Kaltura’s KMC to house our retrievable digital collection materials (per the project grant), and the University of Michigan Library’s MiVideo system, which goes hand-in-hand with Kaltura KMC. I’m working with University of Michigan Library staff to get our materials uploaded to Kaltura and to determine what access services are and aren’t possible with a Kaltura/MiVideo delivery system. Additionally, I help with user experience architecture strategy efforts, making sure we are keeping in mind what our international audience members need from our web archive, and what our domestic users need. In so doing I’ve created personas, user stories, and wireframes to help us get to where we need to be.

So that’s what we’ve been doing lately, in a nutshell. Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll check back soon for more blogs and project updates!


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