On 4 April 2019 Transkribus users from the Netherlands and Belgium gathered under cloudy skies in The Hague to discuss the possibility of forming a network to improve the automated recognition of Dutch language documents.
The event was kindly hosted by Liesbeth Keijser and her team at Nationaal Archief.
The event attracted 45 people from more than 15 institutions including Nationaal Archief, Huygens ING, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Stadsarchief Amsterdam, Europeana, International Institute of Social History, Ghent University, Het Utrechts Archief, Stadsarchief Antwerpen, Noord-Hollands Archief and Picturae.
There are many active Transkribus users in the Dutch-speaking regions and The Netherlands in particular is advanced in the realms of digitisation, technological innovation and digital humanities. This event was designed to allow users to share information about their work with Transkribus and forge collaboration on a generic ‘Dutch model’ capable of recognising a sizeable variety of Dutch language documents.
We were welcomed with an introduction from Marens Engelhard, Director of Nationaal Archief.
Günter explained that the launch of READ-COOP in the summer of 2019 will provide sustainability for Transkribus after the end of the READ project. He also offered a sneak peak of some forthcoming features in the platform including:
- Advanced error rate tool to assess the accuracy of individual pages of automatically generated text
- Trainable Layout Analysis capable of recognising page features like dates and marginalia
- Improved interface for HTR model training, which makes it easier to mix different models together
We then heard from four sets of Transkribus users about the HTR models they had created and their experiences with the platform:
- Liesbeth Keijser and Filotas Liakos (Nationaal Archief)
- Mark Ponte (Stadsarchief Amsterdam)
- Matthias van Rossum (International Institute of Social History)
- Christel Annemieke Romein (Ghent University)
The afternoon was dedicated to discussion about necessary milestones and next steps. Participants discussed the challenge of recognising Dutch material, possible avenues for exchanging data and the desirability of an individual coordinator to play a leading role in the network.
The idea of a Dutch language Transkribus network was enthusiastically received and the event concluded with suggestions of funding avenues to investigate and a proposal for twice-yearly meetings be held at different venues. There is huge potential here to work collaboratively to significantly improve the recognition of Dutch language material and we look forward to seeing what develops!