The Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH-EU) is proud to announce it has signed a Cooperating Partnership agreement with the Centre for Digital Humanities and Arts (CDHA) in Reykjavik, Iceland.
DARIAH is a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) whose mission is to empower research communities with digital methods to create, connect and share knowledge about culture and society. In addition to having 20 member states and one observer country, DARIAH has also established a network of cooperating partners in non-member countries.
“The partnership with DARIAH is an important step in the development of digital humanities and arts in Iceland as we have much to learn from our colleagues in Europe and beyond,” said Eiríkur Smári Sigurðarson, chair of the board of CDHA.
“We’re very excited to welcome the CDHA as a Cooperating Partner,” said Edward Gray, DARIAH’s Officer for National Coordination. “The CDHA will be a productive and exciting partner for our ongoing focus on cultural heritage data, bridging the gap between GLAM and research institutions.”
Founded in the summer of 2021, CDHA is a consortium of 11 cultural heritage and research institutions and universities, led by the School of Humanities, University of Iceland, to facilitate collaboration amongst the institutions and provide this cultural heritage data to researchers. CDHA is part of the Icelandic Roadmap for Research Infrastructure which gives it access to project-based funding from the Icelandic Infrastructure Fund. The operations of CDHA are therefore primarily project-based.
Research Strengths of the CDHA
The CDHA is based on a broad network of heritage and research institutions with complimentary competences. Apart from the School of Humanities, the CDHA has the following members:
- Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies
- Iceland University of the Arts
- Icelandic National Broadcasting Service
- National and University Library of Iceland
- National Archives of Iceland
- National Gallery of Iceland
- National Museum
- Sarpur Management Company
- Reykjavík Art Museum
- University of Reykjavík
The CDHA is seeking to broaden its scope by including other key museums and research institutes. One of the main objectives of CDHA is to facilitate closer cooperation among these institutions to strengthen the arts and humanities research capabilities in Iceland.
The main focus of the CDHA in the first years of operation is on cataloguing existing data and making databases available for researchers to a degree that has not been possible until now. The databases cover both linguistic data and resources in other formats, such as images, videos, 3D models, audio and visual art in digital form. Among the pilot projects is a Historical Database of People and Places (work in progress), primarily based on census data from 1703 to 1920. This project is currently in its third and final year of development. During this last year, links will be built between this database and other available databases of people and places.
Other projects that started in the first three years of operations are:
- An Icelandic module for Transkribus, focusing on handwritten documents from the 18th and 19th century, to be extended further in coming years.
- A model to transcribe “old speech” with the primary purpose of transcribing the folklore collection of the Árni Magnússon Institute. This model will also be useful for other collections of recorded speech, especially from the National Broadcasting Service.
- Transferring recordings from the National Broadcasting Service, making its holdings of recorded speech available to researchers and other interested parties.
- A set of 3D scanners have been bought and are already in use. The scanners are hosted by the National Museum but are available for use by all the partners within CDHA and, to a limited extent, to other interested parties in Iceland.
- The biggest project of CDHA at this stage is developing a new system for Icelandic museums both for registering and hosting of museum holdings in digital form, and a new Digital Asset Management (DAM) system to work with the data. The new DAM system will have special modules for research purposes.
Apart from these projects funded by the Infrastructure Fund, CDHA is also working on strengthening the collaboration between its partner institutions, mapping already existing digital data relevant for its operations, building a partnership with the Division of Information Technology at the University of Iceland (also serving many other research institutions) and establishing itself as a partner in international networks. The cooperation with DARIAH is an important step in this direction.
CDHA will host the 2024 Digital Humanities in the Nordic and Baltic Countries conference, which will coincide with a DARIAH Day event, during which the benefits of DARIAH membership will be shown to the Icelandic community.
Integration with DARIAH
The cooperation with DARIAH will provide CDHA with access to data and tools, as well as training and guidance necessary to adopt state-of-the-art computational methods. The CDHA particularly hopes to gain expertise in linking biographical data, developing training and education resources, and in knowledge organisation, particularly as it relates to their Sarpur platform.
The CDHA also looks forward to gaining expertise from DARIAH in how to organise and run a national consortium and is particularly excited about promoting digital humanities as a research culture in Iceland. The DARIAH framework can help unify and promote collaboration between these projects, as well as valorise their tools and deliverables. The cooperation will also promote research on Icelandic cultural heritage sources.
The long-term goal is to obtain a national membership in DARIAH together with relevant Icelandic partner institutions, ideally within the framework of the existing collaboration at the heart of the CDHA.
“The CDHA is a young structure, not even two years old,” continued Gray. “Yet, they have already established a compelling framework for federating the rich cultural heritage landscape in Iceland and forming a robust national research infrastructure consortium that is well-integrated into a European context. We can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together.”
For more information on the Cooperating Partners membership in DARIAH, their role, tasks and benefits, have a look at our detailed post here.