VIU Library has been working on a project to create meaningful ways for users to interact with a unique collection of audio interviews about Nanaimo’s coal mining past. To map the spoken word of coal miners and their families, tech services staff searched through interview transcripts for references to mines and then took steps to represent these mentions of historic sites on an interactive map. Not only did the project provide opportunities for us to venture “into the darkness” of increasingly technical new work, but it also helped to bring light to the stories of generations of local coal miners.
At VILSC in 2016, Dalys and Sarah were part of a crack team of VIU Library wizards presenting a "6-pack" of emerging work projects that developed new skills in our department. The coal mines map, then in its early days, was one of the projects featured. Three years later, we’re still adding the finishing touches, but we’ve learned a lot, and we’d like to share our experience.