Volunteers in Conversation : Digital Collections

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Volunteers in Conversation

This month we've been catching up with volunteers Tim and Alan as they reflect on their experiences of Digital Collections Volunteering at the Museum.


Tim: "I’m involved in the digitisation of the Martyn Pitt collection (75,000 images). He recorded surface views, machinery, events, visiting dignitaries, all elements of colliery life. There’s an element of detective work in it. I can recognise about five pit heads but there are loads of them. The added difficulty is that he’s altered his index system half way through, changing from a numerical to an alphabetical system."

Alan: "Ooh difficult. It reminds me of when I was an NCB surveyor and I had the office next door to the area photographer. He had a great index, you asked him for an image and he found it in minutes. Trouble was when he left the bloke who followed him couldn’t make head or tail of it."

Tim: "It will be worth it when we convert all those negatives into digital images so that they can become accessible, ultimately, to the public on-line."

Alan: "I’m doing something similar to you Tim but with rolls and rolls of old plans and maps. Since Christmas I’ve looked at over 600 individual maps. I used to do it for a living so my challenge is more in writing the descriptions, writing them in laymen terms rather than technical."

Tim: "In the end it will be nice to leave a legacy won’t it? A bit of payback."

Alan: "Yes, being able to transfer our skills to the Museum is great. The real surprise for me was the opportunity I was given to develop an activity that enabled me to bring the map collection directly to the public. I didn’t expect to enjoy interacting with the visitors so much. I get a real buzz out of it."

Tim: "I think we’re going to be kept very busy with both our projects Alan…you never know we might each end up with a little helper after people read this….you never know!"

To find out more about how you can join the Digital Collections Team as a volunteer please click on this Digital Collections Volunteer link.

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