“The Critical Link”? A workshop on Authority Control and Oriental Manuscripts in Libraries and Digital Humanities Projects

After months of preparation under the uncertain conditions of the pandemic, we are happy to announce our upcoming workshop, <Author><Title><Place>: Authority Records and Manuscripts in Libraries and Research, which will be held at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin from 27 to 29 October, 2021.

The idea for this workshop arose out of the DFG-project Orient-Digital, which is aimed at creating a database and union catalogue for Oriental manuscript collections in Germany and beyond. While entering the manuscript metadata from Ahlwardt, Pertsch and other nineteenth-century catalogues, and importing collection data from other institutions, we faced multiple challenges in trying to harmonise data from different sources and centuries: colliding transliteration systems, authors and scribes with ambiguous names, different works of the same title, among other things. While trying to conceive a project workflow for feeding in and linking our data to the GND (Integrated Authority File), we felt the wish to exchange our ideas and learn from the experiences of other library and digital humanities projects that engage with disentangling and improving data and making authority records available for other parties. With Bibliotheca Arabica, we found a partner who shares many of the same concerns and challenges. This long-term research project at the Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig aims for a bio-bibliographical overview of Arabic literary production that includes data on catalogued manuscripts on a global scale. In doing so, Bibliotheca Arabica’s researchers are encountering the same bewildering variety of historical transcriptions, an uneven depth of description, and they face the need to question and update old ascriptions and identifications in light of the current state of research. While recording and cross-linking names of persons, titles, and institutions in a digital research platform, they also strive to make the source for each factual statement transparent. Together, we have conceived a workshop to discuss these challenges from a library and digital humanities perspective.

The positive resonance to our workshop plans and to our invitation indicates a wide interest in the questions related to authority control among librarians and researchers. We aim to provide ample space for the discussion of current and best practices as well as future perspectives. The workshop is preceded by an evening lecture by Father Columba Stewart, director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library on Wednesday, 27 October 2021.

The two-day workshop itself consists of six panels focusing on how libraries and projects of different sizes deal with authority records, the limits and challenges of authority control, opportunities for automation and use and re-use of authority data.

You will find the invitation to the evening lecture here.

You will find the full programme of the workshop here.

You will find the abstracts of the workshop here.

The workshop will take place online and on-site. Seating is limited. If you wish to attend in person, please contact: orientabt@sbb.spk-berlin.de

The evening lecture will take place online.

Please take note of the current Covid-19 regulations [link: https://staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/aktuelles/covid-19-hygienekonzept].

Webex links for online attendance:

Evening Lecture: https://spk-berlin.webex.com/spk-berlin/j.php?MTID=meb226c6af79a7f86993d001caeebb72f

Workshop Day 1: https://spk-berlin.webex.com/spk-berlin/j.php?MTID=meb6b8091cdb6e3c563266ff8b92788c1

Workshop Day 2: https://spk-berlin.webex.com/spk-berlin/j.php?MTID=mb8e7d5d7e8c20130ca07b495f6b88aac

Please take note that all times are CEST.

We are looking forward to an engaging workshop with interesting presentations and fruitful discussions!

Michaela Hoffmann-Ruf

Daniel Kinitz

Colinda Lindermann

Christoph Rauch




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