CERL Seminar 2017 Putting it together – Research Access for Hybrid Collections

As per CERL’s mission statement our focus is on early printed books and manuscripts, and supporting researchers in their study of these materials. It has long been recognised that providing a historical context for the books, such as information relating to book production, their reception and provenance, is a key requirement.

In this seminar, the focus will be on the context for historical book collections offered by other exponents of European cultural heritage. The theme is offering research services through hybrid collections (i.e. books PLUS art, or museum objects, or archival materials, or all of the above).

Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam, 26 October 2017, 09.00-17.00
The seminar is free, but we do ask that you register your attendance. The registration form for the CERL Seminar, Annual General Meeting and events is available here.

Galleries, Museums and Archives will present their approach to offering integrated research services. We will be talking about the benefits to research, about branding the library/collection and enhancing its visibility (separately from the larger institute, or in combination with it). We will address issues such as arranging access and engaging with the researchers (a population possibly distinct from the larger institute’s regular audience). And we will look at running the library in terms of collection building in the context of the larger institution (or quite separate collection policies?) and training/recruiting specialist staff.

Book collections, archival collections and physical objects each contribute pieces of the jigsaw, ultimately revealing a new window on our shared European past.


Provisional Programme


9:00 Registration and coffee

9:30 am Opening by and Saskia Scheltjens, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and Ulf Göranson, CERL Chairman

10:00-12:00 Session 1 Chaired by Wim Hupperetz, University of Amsterdam

10:00 Richard Ovenden, Bodleian Library, Oxford
‘Gardens, Libraries and Museums: working together at Oxford’

 Richard Ovenden will reflect on the current initiatives to develop closer 
 working between the Botanic Gardens, University Museums and Bodleian 
 libraries at Oxford, and the broader issues over the similarities and 
 differences between these organisations in a digital world.’

10:30 Geert-Jan Koot and Saskia Scheltjens, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
‘Highlights and Challenges of the Rijksmuseum Research Library’

 Geert-Jan Koot will illustrate the richness of the Rijksmuseums 
 collections, including those held in the library. Saskia Scheltjens will 
 outline the specific challenges that the Rijksmuseum is facing in terms 
 of providing integrated access to collections and the services it wishes 
 to offer its users.

11:00 Catherine Yvard, National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
‘The V&A: an ace library, with quite a nice museum attached’

 This paper takes the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert 
 Museum as a case study to examine the relationship between the book
 collection and the rest of the museum’s collections. Two systems, one a
 MARC catalogue, the other a collections management system, have so far 
 been existing side by side, with little crossover. Medieval manuscripts,
 early printed books, artist’s books, rare bindings and many other 
 visually appealing holdings have been described bibliographically, but
 few can be viewed in the V&A’s Search the Collections catalogue. IIIF is 
 however offering new avenues for the museum to give access to its diverse 
 collections in a more integrated manner.

11.30 Kathrin Pokorny-Nagel, MAK–Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst/Gegenwartskunst
‘Understanding the future means know the past. Rare Books for public access at the MAK Vienna’

 Its unique mission of working with books and graphic artworks as a 
 symbiotic whole is what so strongly distinguishes MAK Library and Works 
 on Paper Collection from other art libraries. In its collection, 
 preservation and research of scholarly writing—from the Middle Ages to 
 the present—it communicates the three pillars of the institution’s 
 museological foundation. Beyond publications pertaining to literature, to 
 art and to arts and crafts, it also encompasses a graphic art, photo and 
 rare books collection set up with the idea of building a collection of 
 One of the most prized components of the MAK Library and Works on Paper 
 Collection is the assortment of illustrated books from the 15th to 18th 
 centuries, which was compiled in the 19th century. Over the course of a
 long-term project, all of these 2,936 little-known cimelia of book art 
 were officially recorded in a database along with a description of their 


12 noon – 13.30 Lunch, plus visit to the Cuypers Library

13:30-15:00 Session 2 Chaired by

13:30 Marike van Roon, Special Collections University of Amsterdam
‘Towards Allard Pierson in 2019: integrating the Allard Pierson Museum and the University of Amsterdam’s Special Collections’

 Both organisations are already in adjacent, connected buildings, but 
 still function as separate entities. The coming years are going to see a 
 merger of two organisations, aiming to make efficient use of staff, 
 facilities and collections to support (academic) users and the general 
 public in the best possible way.

14:00 Per Cullhed and Cecilia Winrow, University of Uppsala
‘Bookbindings and Provenances in Alvin’

 Bookbindings and provenance records are rarely connected to images in 
 library catalogues, making it difficult to evaluate the information on 
 materiality behind the bibliographic record. Uppsala University Library 
 completed a  The ProBok project together with the Lund University Library 
 in 2012 connecting these two entities, making it possible to see images 
 of both bindings and provenance evidence, [[http://probok.alvin-   portal.org/alvin/]].
 ProBok  is a stand-alone database and as it is the library policy to 
 minimize the number of databases, ProBok will be moved into the Alvin-
 repository in the near future. [[http://www.alvin-portal.org|Alvin]] is a 
 repository shared by many Swedish heritage libraries and museums and the 
 migration of ProBok will open up a possibility for participating 
 libraries to publish bookbindings and provenance on the Internet.

14:30 INHA? TBC

15:00-15:30 Tea

15:30-18:00 Session 3 Chaired by Claudia Fabian, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München

15:30 Michael Little, National Archives, Kew, London TBC

16:00 Gudrun Bucher, Asch-Sammlung, University of Goettingen
‘Coins, Shells and Exotic Garments – virtual reconstruction of a late 18th Century University collection’

 The so-called “Asch Collection” belongs to the early acquisitions of the 
 Göttingen University. From 1771 to 1806 Baron Georg Thomas von Asch, 
 highest ranking military surgeon in Russia, and resident of St. 
 Petersburg did send various items of scientific interest to the Göttingen 
 library and to the academic museum. In the late 19th Century, when the 
 academic museum as such was dissolved the “Asch items” were distributed 
 to six newly founded university departments whereas the books and 
 manuscripts together with Asch’s letters to the library director stayed 
 in the library.
 During the last three years a small research group founded by the DFG 
 developed a metadata model with the following aims:
 •	Virtual reconstruction of the “Asch collection” by indicating 
 provenance information
 •	Contextualisation of the different items by relating the objects to 
 the corresponding provenance and other information, such as Asch’s 
 letters, transportation lists, object labels (handwritten by von Asch and 
 sent to Göttingen)
 One of the main challenges was the mixed content of the collection now 
 dispersed in natural science institutions as well as social sciences, 
 archaeology and art history institutions. The research questions to the 
 objects differ not only by content, but also structurally as the role of 
 collection differs extremely in the various research fields. The paper 
 retraces the problems and solutions we found and shortly presents the 
 actual model. As there is a lot of research done on the ethnographic 
 objects, an example from the Cultural Anthropology perspective will show 
 which the anticipated benefits for research are and whether the model 
 complies with these expectations.

16:30 TBC

17:00 – 18:00 Summary and discussion, followed by drinks reception

19:00 Dinner for those who have registered their attendance.

The dinner will be held at Restaurant-Café In de Waag, Nieuwmarkt 4, 1012 CR Amsterdam. Phone: +31 20 422 7772. Further details about the dinner are here, please contact secretariat@cerl.org is you want to register for dinner.