Resourceful resourcers

A civilised conclave

A resource meeting in progress

Continuing our series of posts about how Te Ara comes into being, one of our resourcers tells us what they do.

In the bizarre and wonderful world of Te Ara a resourcer, or resource researcher, is one of the people who find the images, video, sound, maps, ephemera and so on that sit alongside, and hopefully enhance, the text. Like me! And Emily, and Marguerite. We also have a manager, Janine (job description: ‘herding cats’), and two lovely copyright administrators, Phil ‘n Andy.

After the text for a Te Ara entry has been written and checked, but before it is edited, a copy of it comes to a resourcer. We have around a week (fingers crossed) to read it, understand it, and come up with lots of ideas of suitable resources to sit alongside it. Then we take our suggestions to a meeting that involves the writer, theme editor, resource team manager, the general editor and uncle Tom Cobbley and all, where we present our ideas and they get discussed and (hopefully) agreed upon.

Although our imaginations are unlimited, there are a few practical things we need to keep in mind, such as the budget (limited), timeframe (limited), and the availability of the resources. Because of this the more resources that are made available online, the happier we are. These days we are very happy, especially with some of New Zealand’s local collections such as the Palmerston North Library’s digital library coming online.

Other sources depend a lot on what theme we are working on. The GNS Science and the Department of Conservation photograph collections were incredibly helpful for the Earth, Sea and Sky and The Bush themes. The Settled Landscape saw us digging through the collections of AgResearch, Hortresearch and a number of other rural-minded institutions. And as for the new theme, Economy and the City – it already looks like we will be hitting the various city archives heavily.

After the resource meeting there are a lot of less fascinating but important bits to do, such as entering each resource in the database we use. This helps us remember to order a copy of it in time, and also makes sure the resource goes up attached to the correct entry, in the correct order – no-one wants to see elephant seals in the farm families entry.

Resourcers then need to create a document for writers to write the captions in, order the resources from the many institutions we deal with, save them into our file system when they arrive, make sure the credit information is correct, and so on. We’re also involved in drafting the maps, graphs, diagrams and interactives that our beloved designers (grovel grovel) then make – the drafts and their attached tracking forms are known in our lingo as the ‘dreaded yellow sheets’.


One comment added so far

  1. Comment made by Helen Rickerby || November 21st, 2008

    What you haven’t mentioned Mel is all the (excellent) photos you resourcers take yourselves – of such thrilling things as grass, different kinds of food, trees, gardens, buildings, etc (well some of them are thrilling anyway).

    I also think it’s important to note that this was our 100th post on Signposts! Yay team!

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