Using Welsh Papers online ..

Inspired by my various experiments with Trove and QueryPic and following on from Jim Mussell and Bob Nicholson’s posts about the new Welsh newspapers online site, I thought I’d give it a go with my favourite topics of the moment, the CSS Alabama and the surrender of the CSS Shenandoah.

As you might expect, both topics generated a fair amount of coverage and were obviously topics of interest at the time.

However, I found myself comparing the site in usability and usefulness to Trove. The Welsh site is of course a beta and consequently some features may not be as functional as they might.

Like Trove it displays the scanned article and the OCR’d text in a fairly standard three pane interface.

Missing is the ability to download the article in either a PDF or as a JPEG, something which should be relatively easy to provide given that the images are almost certainly held as TIFFs. This would also be useful should the Welsh National Library ever want to follow the NLA and start a crowdsourced OCR correction project – it’s simply easier to work from a printed page.

PDF download also provides a simple way of getting content into Evernote for later annotation.

The OCR’ing of the articles appears to be an ondemand process and sometimes it took several sets of double clicks to produce the text. In general the OCR’s text seems to be more accurate that that in Trove, but that could just be an artefact of the half dozen articles I chose.

The only practical way I found to get material into Evernote was to laboriously cut and paste the material from the webpage into Libre Office, change the font from very pale grey to something useful, top and tail the document with the source and date, and then email the pdf to Evernote.

Yes, it works, but it’s certainly not fluid.

There are other things as well – the navigation widget does not let you scroll left right making the hunting for and onscreen reading of text at the highest resolution an interesting experience.

That said it’s a beta, and it certainly has a lot of potential.

Given the power of QueryPic to find material, it would be great if they also provided an api to allow third party search tools access their resources.

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About dgm

IT professional, ex research psychologist, blogger, twitterer, and amateur classical and medieval historian ...
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