Exploring Trove

This week the Melbourne meetup was fortunate to be joined (virtually) by Dr Tim Sherratt (@wragge), who shared with us some of his vast knowledge of Trove.

Dr Sherratt is a self-described digital historian and web tinkerer, who is the manager of Trove at the National Library of Australia and has recently also become Associate Professor of Digital Heritage at Canberra University.

What is Trove? Apart from being voted GovHack’s highest-rated dataset last year, Trove brings together content from research organisations, libraries, archives and museums. Trove also enables access to full-text digital resources, including over 150 million Australian newspaper articles. These articles have been scanned with OCR and a dedicated community of volunteers have been working to correct errors in the OCR. On any day, over 100,000 corrections are made.

So what can you do with all this content? Tim showed us a few projects that have used Trove’s content, ranging from explorations of the front-page content of Australian newspapers and ABC Radio National’s news coverage to playful projects that pull faces (or just eyes) out of Trove’s repository and Trove’s tweet bots. If you feel like building your own Trove Twitter bot, Tim has kindly made his code available on Github!

Trove is designed to be friendly to users from all levels of technical expertise. API keys are available from the help centre, but you can get started straight away using the API console. Tim shared a few tips and tricks, such as the importance of Trove’s zones, which divide up the collections, and ‘works’, which collapse multiple editions of the same printed work. After Tim signed off, Steve Bennett, who has previously blogged about Tove, helped University of Melbourne archivist Katie Wood to use the API to identify content from the university’s archives that is discoverable via Trove.

Open Knowledge Melbourne would like to say a huge thank-you to Tim for persisting through the technical difficulties to talk with us! We’re looking forward to getting to know Trove better.

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