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Beyond Content

Materiality of Text and Image

In 2018, the European Year of Cultural Heritage, Leiden University Libraries focuses on the materiality of text and image with its activity programme titled ‘Beyond Content’. The programme pays attention to the forms in which historical texts and images have come down to us, and also to the new technologies to study these. Through blog posts, publications and other planned activities, students, researchers and a also more broader public will get involved.

Physical characteristics
The physical characteristics of historical texts and images play an important part in scholarly research. They also constitute much of the preciousness and rarity of these items, of their vulnerability and charm. For special collections that are held by Leiden University Libraries, materiality matters.

Collections
Since many years Leiden University Libraries has been responsible for special collections of national and international importance. During those years two things have become clear. First, that the value of special collections goes beyond textual and visual content. And secondly, that using special collections – not only in academic teaching and research but also for cultural and educational purposes – adds to their value and will help passing on this heritage to the next generation.

Availability
Preserving this cultural heritage for the future is therefore a main concern, just as making it available for students, researchers and a more general audience. This is done more and more by providing digital versions. But to what extent can reproductions replace an original? And what do new technologies have to offer?

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