Meet the members of READ-COOP

Did you know that Transkribus isn’t run by an ordinary company but by a cooperative? READ-COOP was set up in 2019 to ensure the long-term development of Transkribus through cooperation and collaboration with users. Four years later and our cooperative now has over 145 members from 30 different countries, who all have their say in the future of the platform.

Without the hard work and collaboration with our members, Transkribus would not be the success it is today. So in this post, we would like to celebrate our many different types of members and look at why they decided to become part of READ-COOP.

The University of Innsbruck, where Transkribus started. © University of Innsbruck

Universities: Making research easier for scholars

Transkribus is frequently used by university scholars to make their research projects more efficient. That’s why many universities and research institutions choose to become members of READ-COOP. Not only do they benefit from being able to buy credits at a reduced rate, but they also influence the future of the platform that so many of their researchers use. 

Many of our university members have been involved in the Transkribus project right from the very beginning. These include the University of Greifswald, the Friedrich Alexander University in Erlangen-Nuremberg, Valencia Polytechnic University, the University of Edinburgh, the Technical University of Vienna, and the University of Rostock.

Since then, plenty of other universities have decided to help their researchers and become members of READ-COOP. Many of these are in Europe, for example, the University of Cambridge and the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom; the University of Vienna in Austria; Trinity College Dublin in Ireland; the University of Antwerp, Utrecht University, the University of Amsterdam, and Radboud University in the Netherlands; the University of Tartu in Estonia; the University of Helsinki, the University of Copenhagen, and the University of Iceland in the Nordic countries; Matej Bel University in Slovakia; and finally the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg and the Christian Albrecht University in Kiel, both Germany.

However, more and more universities outside Europe are joining READ-COOP, such as the University of Maryland, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Quebec at Rimouski

View all our university members on the Members page.

The State Archives of Zurich has digitised thousands of documents with Transkribus. © Staatsarchiv Zürich

Archives: Supporting the mass digitisation of documents

Archives are another type of institution that uses Transkribus on a large scale. In some cases, Transkribus has been used to transcribe millions of pages, making them accessible to the general public like never before. By becoming a member of READ-COOP, archives can help us to develop the platform further to ensure it suits their needs.

There are many national archives that are members of READ-COOP, such as the Swedish National Archives, the National Archives of Norway, the State Archives of Belgium, the National Archives of Finland, the National Archives of Luxembourg, and the National Archives of Estonia. Many city archives have also signed up to become members, including the State Archives in Zug and in Zurich, Switzerland, the municipal archive in Leuven, Belgium, and the City Archives of Stockach, Germany. The Netherlands has plenty of city archives that are members, such as the archives in Noord-Holland, Groningen, Amsterdam and Utrecht, as well as the municipal archives in Schiedam

In addition, we have some archival members that don’t fit either of these categories. For example, the Archive of the Diocese of St Pölten in Austria houses church records going back centuries, and the Fundación Bunge y Born, which is the largest private company archive in South America.

View all our archival members on the Members page.

The British Library houses a copy of every book ever published in the UK. © The British Library

Libraries: Creating digital versions of publications

Similar to archives, libraries also frequently use Transkribus to digitise vast amounts of books and publications, as well as their collections of rare manuscripts. This enables people to access the library’s resources much more easily, without the need to come to the library in person.

Many different libraries are members of READ-COOP, such as the British Library, the Central Library of Zurich, the National Libraries of Scotland, Norway, and the Netherlands, and the Vienna City Library and ZAMG Library in Austria. Many university libraries also choose to become members, including the university libraries in Basel, Switzerland; Stanford, USA; Bergen, Norway; Belgrade, Serbia; Leiden, the Netherlands, and Darmstadt, Germany. This is despite the fact that, in most cases, the university itself is not a member.

View all our library members on the Members page.

The Natural History Museum in Berlin is just one of many museums using Transkribus to create digital collections. © MFN Berlin

Museums: Supporting digitisation strategies

At first, it might not seem that museums would have a large need for transcription software. After all, documents only make up a small proportion of the artefacts in the average museum. However, automatic transcription can help a museum in ways that aren’t always immediately obvious. 

One example is index cards or labels. Museum collections often contain vast numbers of artefacts, of which only a small number are on display to the public. The rest are held in large storage rooms, each with a (usually handwritten) label detailing all the important information about the artefact. Digitising these handwritten labels enables the museum to create a digital database of all the artefacts in their collection, making it possible to analyse vast quantities of artefact data. It also opens up many other possibilities, such as creating digital collections that the public can access from home.

Museums that are members of READ-COOP include the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the European Hanseatic Museum in Lübeck, and the Natural History Museum in Berlin.

View all our museum members on the Members page.

Picturae are one of several companies that partner with Transkribus to help their customers digitise their collections. © Picturae

Companies: Bringing Transkribus to their customers

While the majority of READ-COOP members are state-run institutions such as universities or archives, private companies are also increasingly interested in becoming members. Many of our company members are active in the digitalisation industry, and use Transkribus to help their clients digitise their handwritten documents. Of course, as members, they are able to buy credits at a reduced rate and have a direct line of communication with the cooperative management, which benefits their business goals.

Three such company members are Picturae in the Netherlands, Naver Labs Europe and Geneanet SA in France, as well as CSS, picturesafe management, and Intranda in Germany. 

View all our company members on the Members page.

Many of our members come together every year for the Transkribus User Conference. © READ-COOP

Private members: Supporting Transkribus on an individual basis

But of course, you don’t have to be an organisation to be a member of READ-COOP. Plenty of individuals decide to join the cooperative, enjoy the benefits of membership, and support our mission to unlock the past and make it accessible to everyone.

That could be because they are academic scholars who have used Transkribus professionally and want to support it personally, too. Many private members are also active in the family genealogy field and use Transkribus to unlock family documents and find out more about their ancestors. Some private members are volunteers involved in citizen science projects and want to support Transkribus with more than just their free time.

View all our private members on the Members page (please note, some private members choose to stay anonymous). 

Academic societies encourage research collaboration and exchange. © Christina Morillo from Pexels

Cultural and Academic Societies: Enhancing their work through digitisation

Finally, various cultural and academic societies are members of READ-COOP. These societies often either focus on a particular type of research, or they are umbrella organisations which represent other scholarly institutions. Either way, they use Transkribus to enhance their research work and make it ready for the future.

Cultural and academic societies that are part of READ-COOP include the Society for Computer Genealogy, the Max Weber Foundation, the Max Planck Society, and the Academy of Sciences in Hamburg, Germany; the Society of Swedish Literature in Finland; the Banco di Napoli Foundation in Italy; the Austrian Academy of Sciences; the KNAW Humanities Cluster, the Dutch Language Institute, the Tresoar Literary Museum, and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies in the Netherlands; the Organisation for Danish Archives in Denmark; and finally Memoria Historiens and the Canadian Research Knowledge Network, both located in Canada.

View all our society members on the Members page.

Becoming a member

As is probably obvious from this post, READ-COOP members are a very diverse group of people, ranging from world-renowned universities to hobby genealogists. However, they all have one thing in common: they are all passionate about unlocking history and making it accessible to everyone.

Do you share this passion and want to have your say in the future of Transkribus? Then you might want to consider joining READ-COOP and becoming a co-owner of the cooperative. This will allow you to not only benefit from buying credits at a reduced rate, but also to hear about the latest Transkribus developments in monthly Members Meetings, and have the chance to vote on the future of Transkribus at the annual general assembly. 
If you want to become a co-owner and help write the next chapter of the Transkribus story, then head over to our website and find out more about becoming a member of READ-COOP.

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