May 16, 2022

Case Study: “Open Data for the Crowd: An Account of Citizen Science at ETH Library”

The following case study was recently published by LIBER Quarterly published by LIBER (Association of European Research Libraries). 


Open Data for the Crowd: An Account of Citizen Science at ETH Library


Stefan Wiederkehr
ETH Zurich


LIBER Quarterly, 29(1)
DOI: 10.18352/lq.10294


This paper gives an account of ETH Library’s combined strategy of implementing an open data policy and using crowdsourcing to improve metadata. Both activities go hand in hand and promote each other. ETH Library’s Image Archive was the first unit to provide content for free download in high resolution. This paved the way for a very successful crowdsourcing campaign during which citizen scientists located places, dated photographs, and identified people and artefacts. This positive experience led to further crowdsourcing activities in other ETH Library units. Important conditions for success apart from the open data policy were conscious community management by social media channels and promoting competition within a gamification approach.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.