• 25 Mei 2023

Supporting Digital Humanities methods in libraries

Libraries in the Netherlands have been given the arduous task of investing in digital Humanities methods which can be used broadly and easily. Some of CLARIAH’s tools were presented during the annual Liaisons Oost-Europese Taal (LOET) meeting at Leiden University. 

This session was initiated by Vincent Wintermans (Leiden University), who acted as this year’s host for the LOET meeting. In a previous conversation with Liselore Tissen about offering digital Humanities methods to students, he mentioned that he and his colleagues throughout the Netherlands often do not know where to start, what works, or what is possible. In this context, CLARIAH was invited to help and have a conversation about the wishes, possible obstacles, and ways in which CLARIAH might meet the needs of the librarians. CLARIAH created a tailor-made program that included tools that would be most easy to learn and can be used in numerous ways. The group consisted of about 15 liaisons from all universities in the Netherlands and their experience working with digital Humanities methods varied from no experience at all to having worked with some tools already.

During this afternoon, Liselore presented the current state of the CLARIAH + project and shared her experiences in terms of education and research. Afterward, the liaisons were asked to participate in a tutorial done by Martin Kroon, who presented the pros and cons of using GretEL, a query engine in which linguists can use a natural language example as a starting point for searching a tree bank with limited knowledge about tree representations and formal query languages. The ease with which they can use this tool intrigued the liaisons. Some even suggested the use of GrETEL beyond linguistics, for instance, as a tool for historians who have to go through a significant amount of data.

Following Martin was Dirk Roorda’s presentation of TextFabric, an app that treats corpora and annotations as data, but without losing the rich structure of text, such as embedding and multiple representations. Although TextFabric is a significantly more complex tool, the reactions were positive. Some were relieved to see that there are lots of parallels with “traditional” linguistics and the digital transition might not be that complicated after all. Furthermore, Dirk included an experiment in which he used ChatGPT4 to see whether it could be used to help students use TextFabric. The results were interesting and it was concluded that even when the results of ChatGPT4 seem to be wrong, this Could help students get an understanding of the dangers of using digital methods.

CLARIAH wants to thank the participants for inviting us and we are looking forward to working with you in the future.


Would you like to have a tailor-made presentation, tutorial, or explorative talk to discuss how CLARIAH can help you integrate digital Humanities tools in research and education? Please contact our Community Manager Education Liselore by using the button below.