I spent a wonderful afternoon at the New York Public Library on July 20th, thanks to Phil Sutton, reference librarian, who was kind enough to talk to me about his work and introduce me to several of his colleagues in the NYPL Labs, website, and local history teams.

As the Library holds such vast and diverse collections, it is not surprising that the metadata work of the Labs team is varied and wide ranging. One project involves rationalising and mapping metadata across collections that use different standards, another involves creating metadata for content strategy and website navigation, while more experimental work includes looking to use Linked Data techniques to open up and cross reference data sets.

What’s on the Menu? is using crowd sourced help to transcribe the Library’s collection of restaurant menus. So far, they have completed 998,899 dishes transcribed from 14,872 menus, and are investigating ways of linking the data to enable researchers to make interesting connections. So far, the data is in a fairly raw form, but is available to access through an API.

The Labs team are also working on the Library’s numerous directories, with an emphasis on helping genealogists, starting with census data from 1940 in the DirectMe project.

Previous projects have opened up collections of stereographs and maps, as well as content related to musical theatre, theatrical lighting, and the Shelley-Godwin archive.