The Digital Special Collections (http://disc.leidenuniv.nl) at the Leiden University Library offers an extensive selection of digital manuscripts, letters, early printed and rare edition books. Currently, through the Leiden University Library online database, most of this material can only be viewed in picture format. Thus the content is neither retrievable nor processable through search engines and can not be enriched with semantic metadata or annotated by researchers. National archives in Europe (KB, DNB, etc.) are working toward automated transcriptions of these digitised objects, but these methods are still unavailable to researchers. A crowd-sourcing approach has been selected for students and researchers from the Leiden University Library to transcribe documents on a mobile tablet computer like the Apple iPad.
This project targets users who are less technology-minded and should be an effective and easy tool to transcribe images into TEI XML scripts for later use, like annotation or translation. The paper will give an outline of the technological issues with students and researchers in Humanities as well as evaluate existing projects in the field of access, organisation, transcription and analysis of digital representations of cultural heritage.