|NY Public Library (Photo:Austin_YeahBaby)|
How are they making that happen? The NYPL is crowdsourcing the job. They have invited the public to go in online, select a menu and transcribe it. As they put it "We’ve built a simple tool that makes the transcribing pretty easy to do, but it’s a big job, so we need your help." They could scan using OCR (optical character recognition) except that many of the early menus are hand written, use old ornate fonts, or old, "idiosyncratic layouts" that make accurate reading by scanners difficult. Besides that, they still need the information to be categorized in a database and spell-checked, something that would have to be done by hand any way.
If you want to help, you can go to their website and just click on the Help Transcribe button. To follow the project or learn more, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: There is a list of crowdsourcing projects that Susan Robbins posted on the LIS 653-02 Student Discussion Blog.