Who We Are

The Crowd Consortium comprises a broad mix of libraries, archives, museums and other cultural heritage organizations all over the world engaged in exploring the potential for crowdsourcing for enhancing research, collections and other aspects of their institutions.

Scroll down to see some of our members.

If you are working on a crowdsourcing project that you feel might be a fit for this project, please let us know!


“In 2011 we received a National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities start-up grant for Metadata Games, a software platform that uses games to engage the public to contribute metadata to images and videos. To date, the project has served 45 collections, including those at the British Library, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and more, generating hundreds of thousands of tags. The system works with customizable plug-ins as portals for various kinds of data gathering and data correction purposes.

The project has been working really well and I have talked to many of you who have said, “Gosh, we really need to talk more with each other about sharing stuff, about who is sharing what source code and who is doing what.” Each time someone starts one of these projects they have to ask the same set of questions and they have to go through the same set of things, and we need to advance the dialog. We are all jumping through the same set of hoops and I don’t think we need those hoops, it is just an inefficiency. We will actually be able to advance our scientific inquiry and our critical inquiry and our humanistic inquiry further if we can make something work together. So Metadata Games instigated this conversation.

We are also working in a similar vein with the Biodiversity Heritage Library and Trish Rose- Sandler, who is a collaborator on that project, is here. That is a set of things to normalize discrepancies over different sets of OCR data on plant manuscripts. We have developed two games that are currently launching in the coming weeks that work between different OCR systems, and using crowdsourcing to correct those.

So from transcripts, to gathering data tags, to all kinds of different metadata, I am really interested in how we can move beyond that into new systems. In our work on Metadata Games I began to sense a real need for a national conversation. Who is sharing tools? What is open source and what’s not? Who is interested?

I wanted to help the IMLS pursue what I perceived to be an escalating national need for dialogue about crowdsourcing and about dialoguing across the disciplines. Many of the review panels at ACLS, NEH, and IMLS receive requests for one-off, unconnected crowdsourc- ing projects or mini-archival projects that seem somewhat unsustainable and could ben- efit from connectivity and public engagement. There is especially a need to unite this work with that of scientists, who have been working with citizen science ideas for many more years than the ‘citizen archivist’ or ‘citizen scholar’ approach has been around.

I began talking with Bob Horton, who was at the IMLS, and who invited me to give a keynote about Metadata Games and crowdsourcing at last year’s IMLSWebWiseconference. He asked if I could help them create some kind of national conversation about crowdsourcing. I said, “Well, I don’t know of a lot of people doing this, but I know some.” In late summer of last year we began work on an IMLS Forum project: Developing a Crowdsourcing Con- sortium for Libraries and Archives. It just so happened that Neil Fraistat and Andrea Wig- gins were also asking about having this kind of national meeting with Brett Bobley at the NEH. The three of us kind of triangulated because of the program officers, and I couldn’t be happier because it’s a great team to start this conversation.

Now called “Crowd Consortium,” we started a website [crowdconsortium.org] and pursued a number of avenues to inform a national conversation, and this is kind of the culminating conversation. Even though all of us haven’t been engaged yet, we are all engaged in crowdsourcing in a deep way and have things to offer.

-Mary Flanagan, project co-director

Project Directors

Mary Flanagan

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Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities and Director of Tiltfactor Lab at Dartmouth College

Mary Flanagan is a leading innovator, artist, educator and designer, whose works have included everything from game-inspired art, to commercial games that shift people’s thinking about biases and stereotypes. Her interest in play and culture led to her acclaimed book, Critical Play, with MIT Press (2009). Her fifth academic book, Values at Play in Digital Games, with philosopher Helen Nissenbaum, was just released from MIT. Flanagan established the internationally recognized game research laboratory Tiltfactor in 2003 to invent “humanist” games and take on social through games. At Tiltfactor, designers create and research catchy games that teach or transform “under the radar” using psychological principles.

Neil Fraistat

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Professor of English and Director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), University of Maryland

Neil Fraistat is Professor of English and Director of the Maryland Institute forTechnology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland. He has chaired the international Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations and is Co-Founder and Co-Chair of centerNet, an international network of digital humanities centers, as well as Vice President of the Keats-Shelley Association of America. Fraistat is Co-Founder and General Editor of the Romantic Circles Website and has published widely on the subjects of Digital Humanities, Romanticism, and Textual Studies in various articles and in the ten books he has authored or edited. He has been awarded both the Society for Textual Scholarship’s biennial Fredson Bowers Memorial Prize and the biennial Richard J. Finneran Prize, the Keats-Shelley Association Prize, honorable mention for the Modern Language Association’s biennial Distinguished Scholarly Edition Prize, and the Keats-Shelley Association’s Distinguished Scholar Award.

Andrea Wiggins

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Assistant Professor in the College of Information Studies, University of Maryland

Dr. Wiggins is an Assistant Professor at Maryland’s iSchool and director of the Open Knowledge Lab at UMD. She studies the design and evolution of sociotechnical systems for large-scale collaboration and knowledge production. Andrea’s current work focuses on the role of technologies in citizen science, evaluating individual and collective performance and productivity in open collaboration systems, and the dynamics of open data ecosystems. Andrea serves on several working groups and advisory boards for citizen science projects across a variety of disciplines, and regularly advises federal agencies and nonprofit organizations on citizen science project and technology design.

Project Participants

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North American Bird Phenology Project

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Biodiversity Heritage Library BHL


Cornell University

boston public library






carnegie mellon

Georgia State University

George Mason University





Massachusets Historical Society



American Library Association

King's College London


national endowment for humanities






Patuxent Wildlife Research Center


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


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University of Dodoma

University of Maryland

Pennsylvania State University


University of Victoria



Museum of the City of New York


Wisconsin Technical College


Syracuse University



public lab



wild me conservation


Holocaust Memorial Museum

University of Washington Seattle