The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

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    Culture in Transit helps communities share their histories online

    Oct. 8, 2015, 10 a.m., Posted by Caroline Catchpole

    Caroline Catchpole is a mobile digitization specialist for the Metropolitan New York Library Council, a winner of the Knight News Challenge on Libraries for the Culture in Transit project. Photo above: Community scanning project at Woodhaven. 

    Culture in Transit is working to uncover and document New York histories not yet told, by taking scanners, cameras and librarians’ expertise into communities and small cultural heritage institutions. A partnership between the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO), the Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library, our work falls into two main areas: community events and institutional scanning.

    Community events, which are organized at Brooklyn Public Library by Sarah Quick and at Queens Library by Maggie Schreiner, are held at branch libraries throughout the two boroughs. We bring mobile scanning equipment to library branches and invite residents to bring in family photos, documents and other memorabilia. We digitize the materials, which are returned to the donors along with a flash drive of digital files. The digital files are included in our libraries’ respective catalogs (Queens Memory and Brooklyn Public Library's catalog), and shared with the Digital Public Library of America. Through these community events, we aim to democratize the archival record and empower residents to help shape the histories of their communities.

    Institutional scanning is organized through METRO, a nonprofit organization with a membership of 250 local libraries, museums and archives. We take our mobile scanning equipment to member institutions with the aim to help libraries and archives that do not have the staff time to devote to digitization, the budget to spend on equipment, or the ability to display digitized content online. Caroline spends up to two weeks on site at different institutions, scanning items from their collections. The materials are then displayed on METRO’s Digital Culture site and shared with the Digital Public Library of America. METRO recently published the first Culture In Transit digitized collection, a collection of ephemera from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

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    Crisis Text Line expanding public access to its services and data sets

    Oct. 8, 2015, 9 a.m., Posted by Liz Eddy and Bob Filbin

    Liz Eddy is director of communications and events and Bob Filbin is chief data scientist at Crisis Text Line, a text messaging support service for people in crisis originally developed with Knight Foundation support. Knight is awarding Crisis Text Line, a previous winner of the Knight News Challenge, an additional $1.4 million in support as part of a $7 million funding round.

    Imagine you are a principal at a school: Do you know what is the worst time of day for bullying? Do you know what is the worst day of the week for eating disorders?

    Crisis Text Line has this data. And more.

    Liz Eddy

    Bob Filbin

    Think about the massive juicy data set Crisis Text Line has collected. More than 9 million messages have been exchanged on this free 24/7 text line for people in crisis in just over two years. The volume, velocity and variety of these messages make this data set a very interesting corpus. Better yet? It’s real time.

    The National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might have more data, but it takes years to collect, store and analyze. The Crisis Text Line data set is auto-tagged in real time and made available within seconds. So, that principal is looking at trends right now, with current students, teachers, vendors, social media, etc. Finally, school data can match the pace of school challenges.

    Same for police departments. Or, policymakers. Or, academics and researchers.

    Simply, Crisis Text Line is committed to leveraging its data to inform people and communities. For too long, this information has been slow, expensive and hard to consume. We believe a strong democracy depends on open data.

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    A trio of cultural organizations team up to bring Amy Winehouse documentary to Macon, Ga.

    Oct. 8, 2015, 6 a.m., Posted by Y-O Latimore

    Late singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of 27, is one of many musicians who is remembered as much for her personal struggles as for her songs. A new documentary entitled simply “Amy” claims to tell the story of the six-time Grammy Award winner “in her own words,” through the use of archival footage and music that had not been previously released.

    The documentary, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and broke box office records in the United Kingdom, is one that will likely interest residents of Macon, Ga., given the city’s current and historical ties to the film and music industries. That’s why three local cultural organizations–Bragg Jam, Macon Film Guild and the Macon Film Festival–have worked together to bring “Amy” to the Douglass Theatre in October.

    “‘Amy’ is a significant film paralleling the interests of the guild, the Macon Film Festival and Bragg Jam,” said Camp Bacon, president of the Macon Film Guild. Because the three organizations “enthusiastically and successfully provide cultural events, from music to independent films, for their Middle Georgia audience, it makes good sense... [to] work in partnership to promote ‘Amy,’” he added.

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