In the Forum for Digital Cultural Heritage, LIBER collaborates closely with the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL), which focuses on cultural heritage in the form of hand-written and printed books.
The Forum focusses on making cultural heritage meaningful for today’s online research environment and for the general public.
It aims to discuss topics such as digitization of originals, structured digital descriptions, ‘born digital’ materials as the cultural heritage of tomorrow, digital cultural heritage as primary research data for cooperative research, skill development etc.
Also, it serves as an exchange space for best practices and ideas, to encourage each practitioner in their daily concerns, and finally to support each other in common approaches, to develop vibrant networks, and meaningful collaboration.
At the time when much of a research library’s focus is on managing fundamental changes to its position, its activities and priorities, cultural heritage collections continue to be a valuable asset of the library, proving a library’s uniqueness, distinctiveness and identity. In LIBER, the care for our cultural heritage is the remit of the Forum for Digital Cultural Heritage. In this forum LIBER closely collaborates with the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL), which has its focus on cultural heritage in the form of hand-written and printed books and offers numerous services for the users of these collections.
Digital cultural heritage is about caring for the past’s cultural heritage, the traditional materials, and making it meaningful for the world of today and tomorrow in an online environment. The digitisation of originals, combined with detailed, structured digital descriptions, allows for a wealth of co-operative research, new approaches and connections, and deeper insights. Digital cultural heritage, while harnessing a new environment, continues to bring primary research data (mainly for the Humanities, and it continues to invite new research.
In addition, digitisation opens our cultural heritage up to the general public. This presents new challenges, asks for new (more educational) skills and opens up new avenues of collaboration.
Finally, the materials that are ‘born digital’, which are electronic by nature, and are the cultural heritage of the future, are firmly within the remit of this form. As the information which is now made public in digital form was traditionally not published as a matter of course (e.g. correspondence between peers, research data collected over time, transcripts of lectures), we need to develop new guidelines. Which e-mails do we keep, how do we maintain important research reflected in portals, websites and VREs for posterity? Libraries are faced with new challenges: the administration of this kind of material (acquisition, selection, description, access), the burning question of long term preservation (including maintenance of functionality, more unresolved today as preservation makes progress and a number of legal issues.
In the LIBER Forum for Digital Cultural Heritage, we aim to keep discussions on these topics alive; we aim to learn from each other in best practice and excellent ideas; to encourage each other in the daily concerns; and finally to support each other in common approaches, vibrant networks, and meaningful collaboration.
1. Bring together an active group of participants and draw up a time-tabled list of activities
An outline of the work covered by this Forum is presented in Claudia Fabian’s paper presented to the ‘Reshaping Research Libraries’ Workshop (June 2013). The Forum has a dual approach with a small flexible core group (to initiate activities, to coordinate events, and bring together relevant information) feeding into a much larger group who are informed, invited to participate in (the organisation of) events, and called upon to share all manner of relevant information. If you want to join the forum you are invited to contact Marian Lefferts.
The Forum prepares annual reports for the LIBER Libraries:
- Annual _report_ 16_17 Forum for Digital Cultural Heritage FINAL
- Annual _report_ 15_16 Forum for Digital Cultural Heritage
- Annual _report_ 14_15 Forum for Digital Cultural Heritage
- Annual_report_13_14 Forum for Digital Cultural Heritage
2. Ongoing activities:
- The LinkedIn page Heritage Collections and Preservation, a sub-group of the LIBER LinkedIn page, continues to attract new participants.
- Participation in the Early European Books Library Advisory Board, to advise and support the development of ProQuest’s EEB (Early European Books) collections.
- Work on the programme for the 4th LIBER Workshop on Digital Curation (SUB Göttingen, 13-14 November 2017) is well under way.
- The Forum plans to prepare a high-level overview of technical issues that are being approached in a variety of projects and library workflows and to present these as fact sheets through the LIBER website (e.g. Digital curation, Image recognition, Viewers for cultural heritage material). The aim is to raise awareness of these activities to ensure that work is not duplicated and to stimulate collaboration rather than parallel developments.
- Workshop of the LIBER Forum for Digital Cultural Heritage (Patras, 5 July 2017)
The theme of the workshop was ‘Managing bequests and digital estates: new challenges for libraries’. Preserving the literary, musical and scientific heritage of the past centuries has always been at the core of national, regional and academic libraries’ missions. Today’s writers, composers and scientists are no longer using the pen, but the computer to compose their work, challenging libraries to develop the appropriate strategy in order to preserve the digital manuscripts and all other kinds of documents related to the act of creation, from the basic text file until the e-mails and even the text messages sent and received by the author. This session intends to explore what kind of answers libraries are beginning to put in place to respond to this challenge. We invited contributions from libraries that are exploring operational solutions to address the management of digital estates, including the handling of all documents created by a person through her/his professional activity. Details of the programme may be found here.
- Workshop of the LIBER Forum for Digital Cultural Heritage (Helsinki, 29 June 2016)
The theme of the workshop was ‘Discoverability of Digital Collections’. Libraries, archives and museums are all actively digitising their collections, and providing access to digitised materials via their websites, VRE’s, public-private partnerships with publishers, cross-sector platforms such as Europeana, WikiMedia, etc., all with the end-user firmly centre-stage. The investment has been huge, but the return-on-investment has proven hard to measure, and re-use is reported to be low. Details of the programme may be found here.
- Recording provenance evidence II (Salamanca, 16 March 2016)
A second workshop on ‘A coordinated approach to recording and searching provenance records and images: moving forwards’,was organised by CERL and REBIUN at the University of Salamance (16 March 2016). The programme and powerpoint presentations are made available here.
- Workshop of the LIBER Forum for Digital Cultural Heritage (London, 24 June 2015)
The theme of the workshop was ‘The state of the art in Image recognition’. Image recognition has the potential for being extremely useful to improve the discoverability, comparison and description of images in cultural heritage material thanks to digital procedures and, applying intelligent technical developments. Details of the programme, and the information presented by the speakers may be found here.
- Printer’s devices (Vienna, 17-18 March 2015)
A conference on ‘Signa vides – Researching and recording printers’ devices: current activities and new perspective’s, organised under the auspices of CERL by Professor Dr Anja Wolkenhauer (University of Tübingen), Michaela Scheibe (Berlin State Library) and Dr Andreas Fingernagel (Austrian National Library) took place in Vienna on 17-18 March 2015. Articles are currently being prepared and CERL intends to publish the proceedings. Powerpoint presentations are made available here.
- Recording provenance evidence (London, 11-12 March 2015)
A workshop on ‘A coordinated approach to recording and searching provenance records and images: moving forwards’,was organised by IFLA RBMS and CERL at the Warburg Institute (London, 11-12 March 2015). This was a follow-up to the successful Pre-SHARP CERL Workshop in Antwerp (September 2014). Conceived as a series of roundtable discussions, the programme explored a coordinated approach to recording and searching provenance records and images. Discussion topics included: What do we have and what do we need? Can we agree upon a common model or metadata structure; How do we achieve interoperability between existing databases; Can we consider a contributed model that includes scholars, libraries, and research institutions; What are the principal challenges (ex: coat of arms)?; and the use of Inconclass. The programme and powerpoint presentations are made available here.
- The First Conference of the CERL Security Network (Vatican, 8 May 2015)
The former LIBER Security Network is now hosted by CERL. LIBER Libraries are encouraged to join the CERL Security Network for their physical collections, the Forum acting as an adviser: please contact Marian Lefferts.The Security Network organised a conference on ‘Library Security: Practices and Strategies’, which was hosted by the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana and took place on 8 May 2015. The full programme is available here.
- Provenance research – SHARP (Antwerp, 17 September 2014)
CERL organised a workshop on ‘Historical Provenance Research: Material Evidence, Documentary Evidence, and Digital Humanities’ (presenters included M. van Delft, C. Dondi, M. Hulvey, M. Lefferts, P. Cullhed). It focused on today’s integrated approaches to provenance research. Another stream focused on other European projects on provenance research integration, as well as on the use of documentary evidence to complement evidence-based historical research. Finally, there was a discussion on digital repositories for provenance images.
- Workshop of the LIBER Forum for Digital Cultural Heritage (Riga, 3 July 2014)
– Ivan Boserup: CERL Manuscripts Expert Group
– Renata Šolar, National and University Lib, Ljubljana: Maps Expert Group
– Kristian Jensen, British Library, London: CERL Security Network (Presentation)
The programme contined with a Report on the 3rd LIBER Workshop on Digital Curation (Vienna, 19-20 May 2014) by Saskia van Bergen, University Library, Leiden (Presentation) and Marian Lefferts, Consortium of European Research Libraries (Presentation), a presentation by Marian Lefferts about CERL in the years to come (Presentation), and finally a session during which participants in the session reported on their own projects and proposals, research and new initiatives.
- 3rd LIBER Workshop on Digital Curation (Vienna, 19-20 May 2014)
The programme for the 3rd LIBER Workshop on Digital Curation can be viewed on the Workshop website. Key note speakers were Herbert Van de Sompel (Los Alamos National Laboratory Research Library) and Norbert Lossau (Vice-President of Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Director of Göttingen State and University Library).
– The programme and power point slides are available via http://liber2014.univie.ac.at/
– Pictures of participants and speakers are available in the picture gallery http://liber2014.univie.ac.at/pictures/
– Paul Ayris summed up the workshop in seven points http://libereurope.eu/blog/report-libers-3rd-digital-curation-workshop/
– Participants posted many tweets: #DigCur2014
4. Electronic resources
The Forum aims to support an international exploration and discussion on how digitally-available provenance information is best recorded and exploited across collections. Much information about provenance has been brought together in the Provenance pages of the CERL website and also in further online resources.
At the time of the LIBER Annual General Meeting in London (June 2015), CERL and LIGATUS organised a satellite event with expert seminar on describing book bindings, and high lighting CERL’s activities in the field. The CERL Working Group on Book bindings has followed up on this event, and has planned an ambitious programme of work, which includes:
Greater advocacy for publishing (images and descriptions of) book bindings on the internet
Instructions on how this can be done (incl. varying level of detail in the descriptions, and suggested standards for digitising bindings)
Include rubbings collections in the Working Group’s remit
Work with collections to implement the LIGATUS glossary for describing bindings
Recently, the Working Group has brought together an extensive list of electronic resources for book bindings .
IFLA Guidelines for Planning the Digitization of Rare Book and Manuscript Collections
IFLA Rare Books and Special Collections have drawn up an important set of digitization guidelines addressing the specific needs related to planning digitisation projects for rare and special collections. They are written from the point-of-view of special collection managers, rare book librarians, curators, and researchers who study the physical object as an artefact bearing intrinsic historical evidence as much as for the intellectual content that it contains.They can be downloaded here.
The Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), is a division of the American Library Association (ALA). Their website contains much information that is also of interest to this group.
Manuscripts Expert Group
The former LIBER Manuscripts Expert Group is now hosted by CERL. The Manuscripts Expert Group has an independent secretariat, chaired by Dr Jutta Weber of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, and the liaison between the Expert Group and CERL is through the CERL Manuscripts Working Group. The website of the Manuscripts Expert Group contains much valuable information, also about the manuscript activities in European countries.
The following events and publications are worthy of note:
- The 11th Digital Approaches to Cartographic Material took place in Riga (April 2016), and the conference proceedings have been published.
- LIBER Quarterly has published several relevant articles, including:
- Weisbrod, D., (2016). Cloud-supported preservation of digital papers: A solution for special collections?. LIBER Quarterly. 25(3), pp.136–151. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/lq.10114
- Lahti, L., Ilomäki, N. & Tolonen, M., (2015). A Quantitative Study of History in the English Short-Title Catalogue (ESTC), 1470-1800. LIBER Quarterly. 25(2), pp.87–116. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/lq.10112. NB These authors are now working on a similar analysis of CERL’s Heritage of the Printed Book database.
- Jefcoate, G., (2007). European Research Libraries and Special Collections. LIBER Quarterly. 17(2). DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/lq.7879, a publication describing the context for the LIBER statement of principles: European Research Libraries and their Commitment to Special Collections unanimously adopted by LIBER members at the LIBER Annual General Assembly in Warsaw on Friday 6 July 2007. The guidelines state:
Most academic and research libraries in Europe hold collections of rare and special materials, which may be variously defined. These encompass a wide range of documentary formats and other media, including historic and modern books, manuscripts and archives, music and maps, ephemera, photographs and sound recordings, and digital archives. As primary sources, or significant accumulations of materials relating to particular topics, they are essential for research across a range of disciplines. They have artistic, historic or research importance beyond their purely textual content that justifies their preservation as artefacts whatever surrogates may be available. They provide important evidence for our material, intellectual and cultural heritage and reflect our human diversity.
Members of the Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche (LIBER), in common with other academic and research libraries internationally, recognise the value and the particular obligations that the stewardship of these special collections represents. We collect, preserve and provide access to them on behalf of our parent institutions and the needs of international learning and scholarship. We regard these collections and our commitment to them as crucial to the fulfilment of our institutional mission.
In recognition of the obligations associated with special collections, members of LIBER therefore commit to the following principles:
|·||To ensure that the crucial importance of special collections to the missions of our libraries is clearly stated and understood;|
|·||To continue to build special collections, including new collections where appropriate, in line with institutional collection development policies and other commitments;|
|·||To understand and respond to the needs of users; to consult and collaborate with scholars and other user communities wherever appropriate;|
|·||To provide appropriate levels of funding for the proper maintenance and preservation of special collections and for enabling the widest possible access to them for users;|
|·||To make as much information as possible about our special collections accessible online, following established guidelines;|
|·||To ensure the proper security of special collections and to ensure they are stored in conditions that are environmentally sound, following established guidelines;|
|·||To include special collections in overall strategic planning and library development;|
|·||To work collaboratively with appropriate partners on matters relating to collection building, preservation and improving access, including the digitisation of materials and the provision of metadata to appropriate standards;|
|·||To stimulate contacts with other memory institutions (including museums and archives) in order to exchange ideas, develop best practice and promote practical cooperation in the interest of users;|
|·||To ensure that awareness of the significance of special collections, and the competencies needed to work with them, are preserved and enhanced among young professionals, and especially by offering training opportunities and support wherever possible;|
|·||To inform stakeholders in parent institutions and the wider communities we serve about the obligations represented by the stewardship of special collections.|
Websites referred to in the text