The University Library, your partner for Digital Humanities

The University Library has specific expertise, particularly in the area of historical collections. It actively supports research projects in the digital humanities, in particular through

  • Subject-specific advice on its historical holdings for research, exhibitions, editions: We show where you can find sources for your research project at the University Library or outside. We support editions and exhibitions using the holdings of the University Library.
  • Project-specific digitization on a small or large scale: We clarify your need for digitized sources and make you an offer or refer you to suitable service providers. This allows you to budget resources for digitization in your project application. Smaller digitization requests can be commissioned in the Digitization Centre or ordered directly from the catalog (EOD).
  • Support in compiling, processing and enriching digital corpora: We support you in planning your research project, point out possibilities and standards and offer assistance with metadata management and data extraction (OCR or HTR).
  • Platforms for digitized material: Research questions often require special solutions. The University Library offers you support in the project planning phase, be it in the development of a prototype or a new interface. Our goal is to enable digital research projects with and around our historical holdings.


Working with digitized historical holdings

The digitized sources of the University Library are accessible and usable on the publication platforms . Different tools and download options allow for further digital processing. For specific requirements, we collaborate with RISE, the Digital Humanities Lab of the University of Basel or other partners such as DaSCH.

The University Library is investing considerable resources in the digitization of its historical holdings. Currently, around two percent of all materials have been digitized. When you search the catalogues, you will find out whether a work has already been digitized. You can find digital sources from the University Library in the following portals:

  • swisscollections: Your gateway to historical and modern collections in Swiss libraries and archives
  • e-rara: Digitized old prints from Swiss libraries
  • e-manuscripta: Digitized sources from Swiss libraries and archives
  • e-codices: Virtual manuscript library of Switzerland

And what if my source is not yet digitized? Contact us and we will be happy to tell you what options are available.

The University Library has established processes that enable flexible digitization tailored to the needs of research.

We have set ourselves the goal of supplying research projects with the necessary digitized sources from our holdings within 6-12 months, even with larger corpora. We work out the digitization requirements directly with you. If the standard services fall short, we develop the necessary interfaces so that you can seamlessly process the data in your project.

A corpus of sources will also include digitized documents and full texts from other institutions in Switzerland and abroad. We find these sites particularly useful:

Very often, the sources for a research project are distributed across different platforms. Many digital images can be combined into a separate corpus using the IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework) standard. The Manifest Editor, for example, is suitable for this purpose. This allows several works or parts thereof to be saved in a so-called IIIF manifest. Such a manifest can be published online. This allows the data set to be linked directly in the presentation and shared with others. The ZB-Lab of the ZB Zürich has put together short video tutorials to help you get started with IIIF.

Of course, you can also download the sources and compile your own collection locally. Scripts for e-manuscripta and e-rara are available from Bern University Library.

Digital Humanities scholars can use a variety of tools and methods. We find some of them particularly useful.

  • nodegoat is a tool for creating datasets based on your own data models and enables relational, spatial and chronological analysis and visualization of the data. Members of the University of Basel should contact RISE for access.
  • Transkribus is a platform for automatic segmentation and transcription of handwritten documents. Members of the University of Basel can obtain discounted credits, please contact RISE.
  • Music Encoding Initiative (MEI) is a community-driven, open-source project for the development of machine-readable encoding of music notation.
  • Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) is a document format based on XML that is now used as the standard for tagging and encoding text. The TEI guidelines are now widely used in all areas.
  • OpenRefine is a powerful open-source program for data cleansing and conversion.
  • Gephi is an open-source tool for data visualization and network analysis.
  • DataWrapper allows you to create diagrams and maps based on your data. Geodata from geojson can be easily imported.
  • The Vistorian is an open-source tool for interactive network visualizations.
  • StoryMap makes it possible to display narratives on map or image material. A Google Account is needed.
  • Voyant Tools is a web-based program for text analysis. It allows you to process texts and/or (self-created) text corpora in various formats.
  • Orange Data Mining allows for text analysis of all kinds with machine learning.
  • Obsidian is a research environment that is helpful for compiling source collections and for writing.

We guarantee the sustainability of our own digitized holdings. Sustainability means that we strive for long-term archiving that conserves resources. We are happy to support you in the area of data management and the archiving of research data.