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Recap: Databases in Search of Researchers

The start-of-semester event of the DHNetwork was well attended by a wide variety of students and staff across disciplines in the humanities faculty. Seven project leaders of databases and archives gave a lightning talk and were afterwards available for more in-depth questions.

The University of Bergen hosts many different database and archive projects that are available for students and staff to use for research. Of course, you do need to know that they exist and how to use them. So we opened the second semester of the DHNetwork with a series of lightning talks by seven different databases and archives.

Hannah Gillow-Kloster introduced Skeivt Arkiv, the physical and digital archive of queer Norwegian history. She highlighted that the digital side of the archive includes both digitized archival material and donated digital-born material from social media. For this last type, Skeivt Arkiv needs no develop more infrastructure to display content from Instagram accounts and Facebook groups. Other elements of the resource are “Skeivopedia”, an expanding encyclopedia of Norwegian queer history written by researchers and the katalog of collections, which is digitally available and searchable.

Next up, Odd Einar Haugen gave a presentation about Menota, the Medieval Nordic Text Archive that hosts medieval texts and manuscript facsimiles from Nordic archives, libraries and research departments. Menota invites researchers to encode and annotate text using TEI-based XML, morphological and syntactic annotation, and publish the texts in the archive. Other researchers can then search the archive to display individual text at up to three different levels: facsimile, diplomatic, normalized.

To introduce Teaterarkivet, Tove Jensen Holmås presented a short overview of the history of theatre in Bergen, including Ibsen’s role as stage director of Det Norske Teatret. Teaterarkivet collects all types of theatre documents, and they are in the process of making their material available digitally. Holmås stresses that the combination of texts, posters, newspapers, photos, and other materials helps researchers reconstruct all the elements of a play.

Scott Rettberg’s ELMCIP Electronic Literature Knowledge Base considers electronic literature not as objects in isolation, but as parts in a network. Rettberg shows how automatic cross-references are a therefore a distinctive feature of the ELMCIP KB and that the database is made to contain research collections in which researchers can collect and display the data relevant to their projects. Researchers can also use the database by exporting relevant data for quantitative analysis.

Koenraad de Smedt starts of explaining that CLARINO is not a tool or resource but rather a research infrastructure for language data and tools, making it the first stop for people who need language resources. Students and staff can download the relevant datasets for their research, which often include metadata as context as well. Depending on the license of individual dataset, they are either freely available or available after logging in.  CLARINO is related to other projects such as INESS, which provides access to treebanks, which are databases of syntactically and semantically annotated sentences.

Talebanken, another project related to CLARINO, was then introduced by Ragnhild Lie Anderson. This Norwegian dialect database currently includes four different corpora. Researchers can access these corpora by listening to recordings as well as see text and annotations registered by editors of Talebanken. Talebanken also includes research tools such as the concordance tool, which allows the researcher to see the appearance of words in concordance with its immediate context. To get access to Talebanken, people can contact Ragnhild Lie Anderson.

Finally, Eiliv Vinje gave a presentation about Ludvig Holbergs Skrifter, the first digital critical edition of Holberg’s collected writings. The resource was created to do justice to the importance of Holberg in Danish and Norwegian literature. The future prospective of the Ludvig Holbergs Skrifter is to be a strong resource in the field, which is a challenge because people are still generally more impressed by books than digital editions. Vinje encouraged people to use the edition in lectures and other venues to show people how the resource enables new readings made available by the digital nature of the edition.

After the lightning talks, all presenters were available in a ‘market place set up’ where attendants could ‘stop by’ to ask questions and discuss how to use the database and archives for their own research projects. Many people had interesting discussions, even planned future meetings and databases were chosen for graduate projects. A big thank you to all the presenters and attendants for your enthusiasm and ideas and we look forward to seeing you at future events!