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About Co-Lab

You can have a hand in history by using Co-Lab: a brand-new tool to transcribe, tag, translate and describe digitized images in Library and Archives Canada’s collection. The more work we collaborate on in Co-Lab, the more accessible and usable our digital collection becomes for all Canadians.

Become a contributor in two main ways:

  1. Take on a “challenge” of images, put together by experts at LAC, that would benefit from your contributions, or
  2. Use our new Collection SearchBETA to find the materials that matter most to you, and enhance them; you can now contribute to digitized images that you find when doing research.

When you contribute to images using Co-Lab, the metadata becomes accessible immediately, and it becomes searchable in Collection SearchBETA within 24 hours. If you create a user account and log in when contributing, you will be able to look back on your contribution history at any time.

If you are unsure how something works, check here for common questions and answers:

  • How do I get started?

    For more information, consider taking the tutorial, available on the Home page. You will get an in-depth tour of the challenges and the types of contributions you can make. You can also refer to the guidelines for specific advice about transcription, tagging, translation and description using Co-Lab.

  • What kind of contributions can I make?

    Users can provide many different kinds of contributions, all of which will become searchable metadata for that record. These include transcription, keyword tags, image tags, translation and description.

  • Why is Library and Archives Canada introducing this tool?

    Crowdsourcing transcription and metadata is beneficial to everyone. Transcribed text from an image becomes accessible to those who use screen-readers, or who want to cite large sections of the text in their work. Metadata makes Library and Archives Canada records more searchable, or discoverable, in both our new Collection SearchBETA and other web search engines, improving access for all.

  • What if I make a mistake when contributing?

    If you see that you made a mistake when contributing, feel free to edit it right away. For mistakes that go unnoticed, don’t worry, that’s what the crowd is for! Every time you make a contribution, you should set the status to “Needs review,” so other collaborators can help by reviewing your contributions. And feel free to review contributions made by others. Not every contributor needs to be an expert; with the power of the crowd, all contributions are reviewed to ensure that quality transcriptions, tags, translations and descriptions are maintained.

  • What if I see a mistake made by someone else?

    Calling all detail-oriented people! This is where your collaboration as a reviewer is needed. Regardless of the contribution status, if you notice mistakes or want to make improvements, you can always edit the contribution yourself. This also applies if you see inappropriate contributions made on an object: you can delete them immediately. If you feel confident after reviewing a contribution that it is complete, you can change the status to “Complete”; otherwise you can leave it as “Needs review,” to encourage someone else to take a second pass.

  • The contribution I want to make has been “locked”; what does that mean?

    Library and Archives Canada experts may lock images from further contribution for any reason, including images that may have been subject to inappropriate contributions, or in situations where both the crowd and our employees have reviewed a transcription and we want to maintain the integrity of the completed text. If you believe that something locked needs further contributions, please send an email to bac.co-lab.lac@canada.ca.

  • Can I contribute using a mobile device?

    This website is currently optimized for desktop use. You may find it easier to use all features of Co-Lab if you access it on a device with a larger screen.>

  • How do I suggest an idea for a challenge?

    We would love to hear your ideas! Please send us an email at bac.co-lab.lac@canada.ca with your suggestions. Make sure to include a reference number, MIKAN number or e-copy number for the record you are interested in seeing in a Co-Lab challenge.

  • How do I contribute to images using the Collection SearchBETA?

    When you are doing research in Collection SearchBETA, you will be able to preview digitized images using the new viewer. Within the preview window, below the image viewer, you will see one of two options to contribute using Co-Lab:

    1. If an image has already had crowdsourcing enabled, you will see the previous contributions and be able to use Co-Lab to edit or continue those contributions by clicking the button labelled “Edit or contribute using Co-Lab.”
    2. If an image has not yet been enabled for crowdsourcing, you will see a button labelled “Enable this image for Co-Lab contributions.” You can click this button and answer a few short questions about whether the image needs transcription (does it contain any text within the image?), the language of the text, and what type of media best describes it, to help define what types of contributions will be collected.

    Please note that the Collection SearchBETA is a beta website still under development and may have technical issues from time to time; this includes the ability to contribute to images using Co-Lab.

  • I have more questions; how can I get assistance?

    Please send us an email at bac.co-lab.lac@canada.ca, and we will respond to your question as soon as possible.