READ revolutionizes access to handwritten documents
From the Middle Ages to today, from old Greek to modern English, from running text to tables or forms
In January 2016, more than 150 people gathered at the Hessian State Archives in Marburg (Germany) for the ‘Technology meets Scholarship’ conference. Organised by the co:op (community as opportunity – the creative archives’ and users’ network) project, this conference was also the first public event of the READ project.
We were welcomed by an audience of more than 150 archivists, scholars and computer scientists. The idea behind the conference was to share information about how handwritten text recognition technology could benefit those who work on archival documents.
To kick things off, the READ technical partners demonstrated some of the tools they are developing for analysing handwritten manuscripts including layout analysis, writer identification and keyword spotting. The READ archival partners then explained how they have been digitising and transcribing their collections.
Technology and scholarship came even closer together on the second day of the conference. A selection of German archivists gave an overview of their collections and the READ technical partners responded live to suggest how computers could deal with some of the problems of legibility and layout. We were also treated to a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the Hessian State Archives – which was a first for some of our computer scientists!
Members of READ enjoyed meeting together for the first time and planning the initial stages of the project. The papers from the conference will be shared on the co:op website in due course. We look forward to many more conferences and workshops as the project moves forward.