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China Poster Collection

This is a Phase 3 project, in which the HRA and Data Futures explore rapid digitization and cataloguing processes, metadata transformation, and annotation-based data-extraction workflows, both semi-automatic and expert-crowd based. The project brings together several collections of Chinese Posters, in London (Westminster China Poster Collection) and Heidelberg.

The Heidelberg China Poster Collection started as a rapid prototyping project. Its initial aim was the creation of a digital overview collection of Chinese Propaganda Posters. During a low cost digitization campaign performed by HRA and the Centre of East Asian Studies, about 2500 poster from Peter Köppler collection were digitized. Afterwards they underwent the first pass in a cataloguing process aimed at the detection of duplicates.

Benefits of metadata transformation

The first pass of cataloguing was done in freizo. Data Futures then produced a VRA-XML version of the Heidelberg China Poster Collection and the Westminster China Poster Collection bringing together two sets of Mao Era Propaganda posters from two completely different digital collections.

With the metadata transformed to the Visual Ressources Association (VRA) metadata standard, both collections were fed into Tamboti for use in research and teaching. Students of a seminar taught by Barbara Mittler in Stanford and Heidelberg had the opportunity to make use of the posters in their visual essays (login required - Domain: Local).

Combining existing cataloguing workflows and new data extraction methods

In order to create a metadata basis for more detailed search, filter and browsing options, the second pass of cataloguing for the Heidelberg China Poster collection is currently being done at the East Asian Library (Bereichsbibliothek Ostasien) at Heidelberg University. For this pass, a spreadsheet is used as an input method. The spreadsheet data is then semi-automatically added to the existing metadata records in freizo where it can be combined with data that have been created in other contexts.

Students of one of our collaborators, Christian Henriot (Aix-Marseilles) are currently enriching the Westminster China Poster Collection with an annotations-based data-extraction workflow. The workflow has been developed by Data Futures and has also been used in other disciplinary contexts at Heidelberg, Basel and Sevilla universities.

The positive experience of the China Poster Collection project shows that an investment in data transformation capabilities is not only a necessity in terms of sustaining functional digital collections but also opens up new possibilities of inter-institutional collaborations.