2 minutes to read Posted on Tuesday October 3, 2017


Fostering Digital Humanities projects in the Dutch heritage sector

The National Library of the Netherlands, in cooperation with the University Libraries of Leiden and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, take a page out of the international promotion of Digital Humanities projects in libraries and archives with crash courses on digitization and its applications through Digital Humanities Clinics. Inspired by initiatives likes the Programming Historian and Library Carpentry, they cover theory and practice of digital humanities in libraries with five days of lectures and workshops.

Attendees of the first DH Clinic in September, photo by Michiel Cock on Twitter

Day 1: Digitization and Databases

On the top floor of the beautiful Utrecht University Library, Uithof, the first DH clinic kicked off with a lecture on digitisation by Marco de Niet (Leiden University Library). He laid bare the opportunities and challenges of digitizing cultural heritage in the context of the Dutch heritage sector. Not only is there a huge backlog of un-digitized cultural heritage, but little effort has been taken to preserve the huge influx of born-digital cultural objects within the Netherlands. On top of that, almost 50% of digitized objects are kept in-house or are inaccessible due to copyright claims. De Niet explained the need to at least make the metadata produced by cultural heritage institutions freely accessible, as well as focusing on user-centred cataloguing and design. The second lecture, given by Marnix van Berchum (Utrecht University, Huygens ING), drilled down into the specifics of using databases in a library setting. His talk served as an introduction to what databases are, what kinds exist, and how they can be used to digitize cultural heritage. Accompanying his talk was a hands-on workshop 'SQL for librarians', an introduction to SQL using SQLite. This workshop used the lesson package provided by Library Carpentry, which provides several different lesson packages for training and re-training library staff for digital humanities work.

Attend one of the DH Clinics

With the background knowledge the DH Clinics provide, librarians and other players in the cultural heritage sector are better prepared to develop and maintain DH projects within their own institution. The clinics are completely free of charge, but there's a maximum number of participants. If the clinic you want to attend is fully booked, be sure to put yourself on the waiting list, since often people cancel a few days before the session, and the organizers try to limit the number of people that attend from the same affiliation. All information on the DH clinics can be found Here. Be sure to follow the discussion on Twitter with the hashtag #dhclinics.

By Jolan Wuyts