HONOLULU, HAWAII – Awaiaulu, Inc., a local non-profit organization, is seeking 3,000 volunteers from around the world to participate in a unique nation-building initiative that aims to make 60,000 pages of Hawaiian-language newspapers accessible via the Internet. Participants can sign up to hand-type pages of newspaper copy currently housed in Hawai’i archival collections as originals and microfilmed images.

The ambitious project, titled ‘Ike Kū‘oko‘a, or Liberating Knowledge, will launch on November 28, 2011 to coincide with Lā Kū‘oko‘a (Independence Day as celebrated throughout the Hawaiian Kingdom era), and is scheduled to be completed in approximately eight months. The entire volunteer effort will be managed online using a web-based program, allowing interested individuals to download the files and participate from remote locations. Volunteers are not required to know the Hawaiian language to participate.

“The magnitude of what we are trying to accomplish is unprecedented,” said Puakea Nogelmeier, Professor of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, who is spearheading the project.  “With the completion of this project, more than half of the entire archive of Hawaiian-language newspapers published between 1834 to 1948 will be searchable on the World Wide Web. In the past 10 years, a small team of paid operators was only able to process 15,000 pages, mostly using OCR technology. We realized that we needed to change our approach and, after careful consideration, decided the best way forward would be to open up participation to anyone who wanted to help.”

While funding sources recommended exporting the work to a foreign company experienced in similar digital-text projects, they ultimately determined that exportation would violate the spirit and integrity of the project – and it would produce less usable text.

“Certainly, to coordinate an enormous volunteer campaign requires more resources than simply hiring a company to produce the pages, but we strongly believe the benefit of Hawai’i claiming back Hawaiian knowledge far outweighs any additional effort and costs,” said Kaui Sai-Dudoit, Project Manager for Ho‘olaupa‘i: Hawaiian Newspaper Resource, an innovative program of Awaiaulu, Inc. that makes searchable pages from early Hawaiian language newspaper available on the Internet.

Key benefits noted by organizers include the unparalleled potential for social engagement and the sense of pride, ownership and familiarity for the Hawaiian community and its far-flung supporters.

Interested volunteers can visit www.awaiaulu.org for more information. Pre-registration will occur from now to November 27, 2011. General registration will begin on November 28, 2011 and will continue until the project’s scheduled completion on July 31, 2012, or Lā Ho‘iho‘i Ea (Restoration Day in the Hawaiian Kingdom) or until all the work is completed.

Once the project commences, volunteers will be able to log in to the website, reserve a page for typing and hold that page for one week, with the option of an additional one-week extension. If the reserved page is still not completed by the end of the extension, it will return to the unfinished cache, where other volunteers may select it for typescripting. All typed pages will be reviewed for accuracy. The completed project is scheduled to be available for online viewing on November 28, 2012.

Many organizations and institutions are jumping on board to assist with finances and resources in this important Hawaiian legacy project. Organizations include The Pūʻā Foundation, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kamehameha Schools, Hawai‘inuiākea: Center for Hawaiian Knowledge, U.H. Sea Grants Hawai‘i, and numerous civic clubs and hālau in Hawai‘i and abroad.

“It’s impossible to overstate the value that the success of this project will have, not only for the Hawaiian people, but for those interested in Hawaiian history and scholarship,” said Toni Bissen, Executive Director of the Pū‘ā Foundation. “We invested in this project to support our own (Pū‘ā Foundation’s) mission of developing educational resources to serve Hawai‘i’s communities and reconcile consequences of the overthrow of our monarchy,” said Bissen.

Submitted by Bright Light Marketing

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