Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History Scores $195K Grant for Extreme Cleverness

Where all the best Kentucky oral histories go to retire....

UK Libraries Receives Grant for Web Search Technology
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded the University of Kentucky Libraries a $195,853 National Leadership Grant to further develop their Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS). OHMS is a web-based system that allows users to search for specific terms within recorded oral history interviews. This tool will enable a wide variety of libraries and archives to enrich the use of digital oral history collections and will save considerable time for experienced and inexperienced researchers alike.

"The OHMS system is an ingenious development in synchronizing recorded oral histories with their transcriptions," says Peggy A. Bulger, director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. "While early oral historians considered the transcription to be authoritative, modern researchers understand that the words of the speaker are the most accurate oral history document. Working with oral testimony, however, has always been difficult without the compromise of a transcription, and the OHMS system allows researchers to coordinate oral documents with their transcripts in a way that preserves the integrity of the oral history."

IMLS National Leadership Grants support projects that have the potential to advance museum, library and archival practice. Grant proposals must address key needs and challenges that face libraries, museums and archives and should have a national impact. The UK Libraries grant for OHMS was presented under the Advancing Digital Resources category. Grant winners in this category support the creation, use, presentation and preservation of significant digital resources, as well as the development of tools to enhance access, use and management of digital assets.

The Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, under the direction of Doug Boyd, and Digital Library Services, under the direction of Eric Weig, at UK Libraries created OHMS to inexpensively and efficiently enhance access to and discovery of oral history online. The system provides users word-level search capability and a time-correlated transcript or index connecting the textual search term to the corresponding moment in the recorded interview online. The ability to pinpoint specific terms in lengthy oral history interviews will save the experienced researcher, as well as students or the general history enthusiast lots of time and effort.

"Before the OHMS system, any synchronization of speech and text was arduous," says Bulger. "Dr. Boyd’s work, however, has made this task so easy that inexperienced workers, such as students, can synchronize hours of oral history in very little time. I don’t believe that, in recent times, there has been a development as important as OHMS in the area of oral history transcription." ... 

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