Not just the Book of Kells: Trinity College Dublin opens online access to 60 medieval manuscripts – The Irish Times

“The library [at Trinity College Dublin] had wanted for some time to scale up its digitisation and do more on the unique pieces in its research collections. “We started out initially with 16 manuscripts that we were going to catalogue, conserve, research, blog about and share,” says Estelle Gittins, who is the manuscripts curator. “Two years later we’ve done about 60 manuscripts and fragments. That’s just over 16,000 individually digitised pages of text, artwork, doodles.” Two of the library’s most significant and highly decorated manuscripts, the 12th-century Winchcombe Psalter and Matthew Paris’s Book of St Albans, have been photographed in their entirety in colour for the first time. All 60 show how vital the library’s collections are to the study of the art, history, culture, language and literature of the medieval period. The different materials used help to fill in the story of the move from parchment (made from sheepskin) and vellum (calfskin) to paper….”

How AI could reveal secrets of thousands of handwritten documents – from medieval manuscripts to hieroglyphics

“Ansund aims to use HTR [handwritten text recognition] to build an exhaustive, open-access digital corpus of Old English texts, that transcribes all surviving Old English for the first time, and in an unparalleled level of detail.”

Humanities Guåhan to archive and digitize resource center | Guam News |

“Humanities Guåhan received an award from the National Endowment for the Humanities Pacific Islands Cultural Initiative to fund the coestablishment of the Pacific Islands Humanities Network.

This funding will go toward developing a new digital resource center to preserve and enhance accessibility to valuable educational and cultural resources related to Guåhan, Micronesia and the broader Pacific region, according to Humanities Guåhan….”

Datasheets for Digital Cultural Heritage Datasets – Journal of Open Humanities Data

Abstract:  Sparked by issues of quality and lack of proper documentation for datasets, the machine learning community has begun developing standardised processes for establishing datasheets for machine learning datasets, with the intent to provide context and information on provenance, purposes, composition, the collection process, recommended uses or societal biases reflected in training datasets. This approach fits well with practices and procedures established in GLAM institutions, such as establishing collections’ descriptions. However, digital cultural heritage datasets are marked by specific characteristics. They are often the product of multiple layers of selection; they may have been created for different purposes than establishing a statistical sample according to a specific research question; they change over time and are heterogeneous. Punctuated by a series of recommendations to create datasheets for digital cultural heritage, the paper addresses the scope and characteristics of digital cultural heritage datasets; possible metrics and measures; lessons from concepts similar to datasheets and/or established workflows in the cultural heritage sector. This paper includes a proposal for a datasheet template that has been adapted for use in cultural heritage institutions, and which proposes to incorporate information on the motivation and selection criteria, digitisation pipeline, data provenance, the use of linked open data, and version information.

The Library of Congress plays a critical role in preservation and providing public access to cultural heritage materials | Internet Archive Blogs

“The Internet Archive and the Software Preservation Network (SPN) support proposed revisions to the US Copyright Office electronic deposit rules as an important bulwark against vanishing culture….”

Preserving Cultural Heritage: Transkribus Integration with Wikimedia Projects – READ-COOP

“As of July 2023, Transkribus is proud to be a text recognition engine on Wikisource, which is an online digital library of public domain and freely licensed source texts and historical documents, and a sister project of Wikipedia. 

Preserving and sharing historical knowledge is more important than ever, but the task of transcribing and making historical manuscripts accessible is not without its challenges, which is why innovative organisations join forces towards a common goal. 

The Wikimedia Foundation — the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia, Wikisource, and other free knowledge Wikimedia projects — and Transkribus have recently started an exciting collaboration that began with the Wikisources Loves Manuscripts project, which is inspired by the digitisation and transcription of historical Balinese manuscripts. In this article, we will explain how this partnership came about and look at how Transkribus can benefit the Wikisource community. Additionally, we will show you how to use Transkribus within the Wikisource platform for a seamless transcription process….”

Darwin’s handwritten pages from ‘On the Origin of Species’ go online for the first time

“An extraordinary collection of priceless manuscripts of naturalist Charles Darwin goes online today, including two rare pages from the original draft of On the Origin of Species….

Darwin’s handwriting is notoriously difficult to read. As such, the documents have been transcribed, and can be viewed side-by-side with the original manuscript. The newly released documents can be viewed at Darwin Online.

“Instead of being locked away out of public view, by adding these documents to Darwin Online they became freely available to anyone in the world”, shared Dr. van Wyhe.”

IPLC Launches the Woman, Life, Freedom Movement of Iran Web Archive – Ivy Plus Libraries

“The Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation is pleased to announce the launch of the Woman, Life, Freedom Movement of Iran web archive, curated by librarians at the IPLC. This web archive preserves material on, about, and from the Woman, Life, Freedom movement of Iran, which emerged in the wake of the 2022 police killing of Mahsa Jîna Amini. Her arrest by the morality police, on alleged grounds of non-compliance with the compulsory Hijab Law, ignited a series of protests that began in Kurdistan, spread across all levels of Iranian society, and reached other marginalized regions like Sistan-Baluchistan. This movement garnered international solidarity, with the Iranian diaspora and global activists demanding accountability from the Iranian government. Despite the government’s attempts to violently suppress dissent, the movement persists into 2023. This archive curates a collection of videos, photographs, art, music, petitions, statements, and diverse forms of expression that have emerged from this movement, showcasing both government crackdowns and the resilience and determination of the Iranian people in their pursuit of meaningful change….

The Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation’s Web Collecting Program is a collaborative collection development effort to build curated, thematic collections of freely available, but at-risk, web content in order to support research….”

Black Craftspeople Digital Archive

“From 1619 to beyond, Black craftspeople, both free and enslaved, worked to produce the valued architecture, handcrafts, and decorative arts of the American South. The Black Craftspeople Digital Archive seeks to enhance what we know about Black craftspeople by telling both a spatial story and a historically informed story that highlights the lives of Black craftspeople and the objects they produced. The first and second phases of this project focus on Black craftspeople living and laboring in the eighteenth-century South Carolina Lowcountry and mid-nineteenth century Tennessee.”


GPO Digitizes All Congressional Directories Back to the 1800s

“The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) has digitized all historic Congressional Directories on GovInfo, the one-stop site to authentic information published by the Federal Government. The public now has free and easy access to nearly 130 years of additional directories and can explore directories from the 41st Congress (1869–1870) through the 117th Congress (2021-2022). Future Congressional Directories will continue to be released on GovInfo as they are completed.

“GPO is proud to make available these historic Congressional Directories in another step toward cultivating an America Informed,” said GPO Director Hugh Nathanial Halpern. “We hope the public enjoys exploring these directories which are rich with information on our Nation’s past and present leaders. Congratulations to our team on completing this effort.”

Historically, the Congressional Directory has been one of the most comprehensive and detailed resources for identifying the components of the three branches of the Federal Government. It includes short biographies of each member of the Senate and House, as well as terms of service and contact information for members of Congress. In addition, it provides descriptions of various Executive branch departments and Judiciary information….”

Culture Heritage and Structured Data: How DPLA became the biggest institution to contribute to Structured Data on Commons – Diff

“What would become of Wikipedia and its sister projects without images from museums, libraries, and archives? Pictures from these institutions are able to illustrate a range of different articles, in diverse fields and areas. However, in order to really accomplish that, images should not only be available, but also enriched with data that can make them more findable on the projects. 

And so, for the past few years, the Culture and Heritage team at the Wikimedia Foundation has been involved with Structured Data-related initiatives in order to engage heritage materials on the Wikimedia projects. Our objective, together with the Structured Data Across Wikimedia (SDAW) team, was to support and increase image usage across the projects, as well as to structure Wikimedia to help it reach communities globally.

One of the main projects we worked on together was the initiative with the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). This institution became one of the biggest Wikimedia Commons contributors, with 3.7 million images available on the project, by not only being the main institution in the United States directly uploading files to the platform, but also because of its structured data activities. Since 2020, DPLA has worked on adding and modeling structured data and engaging in discussions around the topic, precisely to make its files (the files from the 300 institutions that contribute to the DPLA’s Wikimedia pipeline) more findable and used on Commons, on Wikipedia, and elsewhere. Currently, DPLA presents around 15 million edits to 50-100 million structured data on Commons statements….”

700 Years of Persian Manuscripts Now Digitized & Free Online | Open Culture

“Too often those in power lump thousands of years of Middle Eastern religion and culture into monolithic entities to be feared or persecuted. But at least one government institution is doing exactly the opposite. For Nowruz, the Persian New Year, the Library of Congress has released a digital collection of its rare Persian-language manuscripts, an archive spanning 700 years. This free resource opens windows on diverse religious, national, linguistic, and cultural traditions, most, but not all, Islamic, yet all different from each other in complex and striking ways….”

Digitized History of Africans in the Atlantic World Finds Permanent Home in Heard Libraries – Impact Report

“In February 2023, the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries announced the transition of the Center of Digital Humanities to its portfolio. This transition includes the stewardship of ongoing research projects that contribute to the university’s research profile and scholarly footprint, including the Slave Societies Digital Archive, which, after a long history of support and collaboration, finds a permanent home in the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries.  

The Slave Societies Digital Archive (SSDA), formerly known as the Ecclesiastical and Secular Sources for Slave Societies, is directed by Gertrude Conway Vanderbilt Professor of History Jane Landers and hosted at Vanderbilt University. Launched in 2003, its mission is to identify, catalog and digitally preserve endangered archival materials documenting the history of Africans and their descendants in the Atlantic World. The SSDA’s largest and oldest collections were generated by the Catholic Church, which mandated the baptism of African slaves beginning in the fifteenth century and later extended this requirement to the Iberian New World. The baptismal records preserved in this archive are the oldest and most uniform serial data available for the history of Africans in the Atlantic World and offer the most extensive information regarding their ethnic origins….”

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery launches its online digital collection of nearly 5000 works of art

“The entire Beaverbrook Art Gallery permanent collection of works is now viewable online on the gallery’s website for members of the public to study and enjoy, and this is joined with new animated videos and activities for children.

Beginning as a COVID-19 project, the curatorial team at the Beaverbrook undertook the major project of reviewing, documenting, and photographing the entire collection housed at the gallery. Ranging from paintings, to sketches, prints, photographs and sculpture, the entire art collection has been re-catalogued and photographed with a state-of-the-art digital process. The photographs, along with artwork and artist information, have now been uploaded to a browsable database that is available to the public.”

Library of Congress Releases Newly Digitized Hebrew Manuscripts

“The Library of Congress has released some 230 newly digitized manuscripts written in Hebrew and similar languages such as Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Persian and Yiddish. The collection, available online for researchers and the public for the first time, includes a 14th century collection of responsa by Solomon ibn Adret of Barcelona, considered one of the most prominent authorities on Jewish law of all time.

The full digital project, funded by the David Berg Foundation, offers a highly diverse collection of materials from the 10th through the 20th centuries, including responsa or rabbinic decisions and commentary, poetry, Jewish magic, and folk medicine….”