A collaboration between the Library of Congress and University of Nebraska–Lincoln scholars and students has laid a strong foundation for machine learning to play a role in future digital strategies.
In 2018, the Digital Strategy Division of the Library of Congress released a five-year digital strategy for the Library, with a goal of maximizing the value of its collections for research. As part of that strategy, the Library began seeking a collaboration to test machine learning across different materials, since the library’s collections are so varied.
The Aida digital libraries research lab, led by Husker researchers Elizabeth Lorang, associate professor in University Libraries, and Leen-Kiat Soh, professor of computer science and engineering, were awarded a research services contract following a call for proposals from the Library.
Aida is centered on making cultural heritage materials that have been digitized more accessible through computational image analysis tools and machine learning. The team has received grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, among others.
“We’re interested in some of these same questions that the Library of Congress was asking,” Lorang said. “What can we do with the material that’s being made available; and how do we find things? We’re also looking forward to how can we have an impact from the moment digital libraries are being developed so that we can maximize the process from the beginning all the way to the end.”
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