Linking Open Small Prints
A case study for open linked archives that place various digital cultural objects on useful knowledge graph
The aim of our
Open Print Collections is to store various formats of small printed material. In this example, we show a scanned camera price catalogue from May 1939.
Hatschek & Farkas was not only a photography store: its photography book publisher had an oversized impact on amateur and professional photography in pre-war Budapest.
What’s in the Price List?
Our featured digitised small print, the 83rd price list of HAFA, features new and used cameras that gives a rough overview of what was available for a starting amateur, a working-class person with a low salary, or a serious pro at this time. Or, you would think that this catalogue is a good starting point for a collection of downtown Budapest’s commerce right before the onset of the 2nd world war.
HAFA and Hungarian photography education
They employed Iván Hevesy, the avantgarde artist,literature, photography and film theorist, who became the author of countless, widely used books and booklets aimed at the education of the amateur photographer.
The cosmopolitan Budapest of this era was an important centre of modern photography of the early 20th century. Many world-known photographers, like Robert Capa, Marton Munkacsy, Brassaï, or André Kertész, started their careers—and almost certainly visited at least one of HAFA’s shops.
How to make your item findable?
Using this small print for research purposes in simple, digitsed PDF files is not straightforward. Starting with the fact that Hungarian is not a widely spoken language, and it has changed a lot since the 1930s: online translation tools will not help you much. Even for Hungarian-speakers, the front page already sets roadblocks. The street names and the districting of the Budapest addresses changed after the 2nd world war. The Hungarian spelling of the simple word ‘utca’ for the word ‘street’ was normalised with earlier ‘ucca’, ‘utcza’ versions. It is unlikely that this document will ever be used for any purpose if it is not connected to more timely, easier-to-read, and easier-searched information.
View Larger Map
The area of the original HAFA store changed: important buildings were destroyed in the siege of Budapest. The 4th district was made 5th district, and Károly király út (road) became Károly körút (ring).
When we talk about linked open archives, we do not only mean that this small print is available in high-resolution scan and modern, Hungarian OCR-recognized, readable, searchable PDF format with an open culture license. You may want to be able to place similar price lists on a timeline so that you can see the price evolution of cameras in 1939. Or, you may want to place photography stores on an Open Street Map or a Google Map. You write a historical novel, and you want to check if a certain camera could have been available and affordable for your imaginary hero starting a photojournalism career. You want to connect this price list to a camera museum and simultaneously to the cameras of Robert Capa, Marton Munkacsy, Brassaï , or André Kertész.
FAIR collections: from yet another scanned file to a web resource
The idea of
Open Print Collections is making a step forward from treating a digitised copy of a small print as a series of still images (scanned as an image) or as an OCR-text. We help you make the digital cultural object and your catalogue new web resources that can be put on timelines and connected to other images, texts, persons, and modern and historical addresses. You no longer read it as strings but as a thing; your scanned small print, in this case, a pricelist, becomes from a digital still image or text a digital price list.
In more technical terms, this is our application of the FAIR principle of open science. We make this price list, and it is individual items more findable and more accessible. We facilitate interoperability between OpenStreetMaps, photographer encyclopedias, camera collections, and commercial history exhibitions. Eventually, this leads to a much higher reuse potential: a simple PDF document became a web resource that can be found by many curators or collectors, and it can be linked to various map applications, other open collections, or linked open data resources.
Using the semantic web or linked open data technology is nothing new in the cultural heritage sector: information scientists (formerly known as library scientists) in large national libraries and national archives are the avant-garde users of this new layer of the world wide web.
- You may want to synchronize your contents to archive.org and/or Wikimedia.
- You collect material about an artist. You would like the data to be correct on all pages of Wikipedia, and your photos be present in Europeana and Flickr Commons.
- Your items should have an inventory book and catalogue that matches the ISAD(G) standard, the locational data is connected and searchable on Google Maps and Open Street Map.
Open Linked Collections Offering
The mission of
Open Collections Network is to find suitable web-based solutions (such as the digital storage and collections management service of archive.org, or the digital heritage aggregation and search engine of Europeana) that can be used by small public and private collections that do not have an IT department (or not even an IT-specialist) at their disposal.
We want to ensure that these services—with self-developed but open-source plugins and connectors when necessary—, are available for even the smallest collections—because we believe that that is where new hidden gems can be found, not in the world’s biggest and most researched collections.
Reprex invites small private collections, small public collections, and open-source developers to its
Open Collections Network platform to
Consolidate a critical mass of small users to remain competitive on large global platforms.
Curate open-source software that is suitable for the needs of small private and public collections.
Create new tools and integrations of small or affordable public services for better archiving, digitisation, collection management, rights management, dissemination and publication activities of collections.
Educate users managing small collections without IT, information or data specialists about making their collection more findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.
Provide service interoperability with linked open data, harmonised and collaborative market/user research, and the best practices of the rights management of commercial, out-of-commerce and public domain cultural objects.