Last week the Digitised Manuscripts to Europeana (DM2E) project officially kicked off. Hosted in the wonderful setting of the Humboldt University, the kickoff event lasted two days and brought together the 11 strong consortium of academic institutions, non-governmental organisations and cultural heritage institutions. Led by the Project Coordinator, Professor Stefan Gradmann, the kick-off event featured key-note addresses as well as presentation from work package leads about their work going forward.
DM2E will address the needs of scholars in the Digital Humanities who require tools for working with large bibliographic data sets. Dr Susan Schreibman of Trinity College Dublin and member of the DM2E Advisory Board gave a fascinating account of the current state of the Digital Humanities. She presented some of the ground-breaking research that is being undertaken on the history of reading practices and presented some of the best examples of visualisation projects in the Digital Humanities, such as Stanford’s Mapping the Republic of Letters.
Following on from this, Steffen Hennicke from the Humboldt University presented the Europeana Data Model (EDM). The Europeana Data Model stands at the heart of much of the technical work to be undertaken as part of DM2E. Its richness and flexibility facilitates contextualization of metadata in Europeana. The remainder of day one and the first half of day two was spent with break out sessions at which each Work Package lead set out their plan going forward.
To round off proceedings on the second day the final presentation was given by Louise Edwards from the European Library. Louise highlighted the challenges faced by Europeana going forward but also the opportunities that it held for enriching research and stimulating the development of new apps that used cultural heritage data.
Emphasis was placed on the importance of engaging scholarly communities with Europeana. It was a fitting end to the kick-off event as it showed where the the project would benefit the more general Europeana by enabling more communities to use Europe’s vast store of digital cultural heritage in new and exciting ways through the creation of innovative tools.