Brussels, KBR (Royal Library of Belgium), 23rd and 24th November 2021
Over the course of the Middle Ages and the first Renaissance, what was called the ‘Low Countries’ (BeNeLux, Northern France, Northern-Western Rhine Regions) developed an original written culture. The essential part of what has been preserved of this important heritage has fortunately survived in the libraries and manuscript collections of our regions, sometimes abroad. Over the last few years, important survey and recovery projects have been started. However, not all the heritage collections have been identified or explored, especially in the private and ecclesiastical libraries. Moreover, not all the pre-modern sources useful for the study of this written heritage have yet been identified, surveyed or edited.
To facilitate these scholarly activities, we must call on information technologies and particularly on digital humanities for inventory, research, preservation and enhancement of this heritage. Relevant technologies include managing metadata, digitization, electronic editions, data mining, virtual libraries and virtual digital museology or digitally restoring medieval books. However, all these initiatives have not yet necessarily been surveyed, and they are still not all accessible from a central point of information. Moreover, many manuscripts and the relevant sources that document their history are still poorly known to scholars working in this field.
It therefore seems timely and opportune to make an assessment of the initiatives and to establish a research community around the written heritage of the historical Low Countries and the application of digital humanities to this field. An ‘observatory of written heritage’, comparable to Biblissima and in close collaboration with this pioneering French portal in the field, would be a good approach to creating a synergy between keepers of the historical collections, expert librarians, academic scholars and teachers and digital humanities researchers.
In order to launch this contact group’s activities, a webinar has already been organized in May 2021. Now that the relaxation of the Covid-19 rules allow for in-person meetings, we are able to organize a meeting on 23rd and 24th November. This will not be a conference, but working groups deliberating on the need of such a network, the expectations for it, and the possible activities it could undertake in the next future.
If you are a librarian, an archivist, a written heritage preservation or digitization specialist, a Digital Humanities specialist, a researcher or a teacher involved in the field of written cultures of the area in question, and if you are a representative of your institution, unit, laboratory, etc., you are friendly invited to participate in the working days (there may be several participants for each institution, depending on their skills).
!!! Due to Covid health measures in Brussels-Capital Region, access might be made conditional on presentation of a ‘Covid Safe Ticket’ !!!
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Tuesday, November 23rd
10:00 Welcome Coffee
10:30 Opening Speeches
13:00 Working Groups (Metadata and Cataloguing, Preservation and Heritage Management, Digitization, Research, Education and Training in Written Heritage and Digital Humanities, Virtual Museology and Enhancement of Written Heritage, etc.).
15:00 Visit of KBR Museum
Wednesday, November 24th
09:30 Presentation of the Working Groups Summaries (1)
10:30 Coffee Break
11:00 Presentation of the Working Groups Summaries (2)
13:30 General Discussion
15:00 Closing Drink