During the last ReIReS School that was held June 15-17, the University of Hamburg provided a view into its rich Jewish collections. Due to the current situation, the view was entirely digital.
The Institute of Jewish Philosophy and Religion of the University of Hamburg together with the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies presented the training participants several tools and facilities in the field of Jewish Studies, among which the special collections of the University Library of Hamburg, one of the top ten Hebraica collections.
The virtual visit of the Center for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CMSC) guided by Irina Wandrey turned out to be a veritable tour of Hamburg’s treasuries: a manuscript collection of 12.000 volumes and all kinds of objects containing religious texts and inscriptions were displayed: breadstamps, a fan, a scroll, etc.
Sebastian Bosch of the Artefact Profiling Laboratories explained how his laborary supports the Centre’s study of written artefacts both in Hamburg and beyond. During his presentation he emphasized the importance of defining exact research questions, so that his laboratory can find specific ways to analyse materials.
Stefan Lit finally introduced us to his digitisation work at the National Library of Israel during the last 10 years.
In addition to the appreciation for the richness of the shown collections, there appeared to be a great need for digitisation. The question of how research and digitisation interact and will interact (which materials do we want to digitise? Are we going to study mainly those sources that have been digitised?) came up several times. In any case, participants agreed that physical sources cannot be missed, while on the other hand they recognized the benefits of further digitisation.
This is in line with the motivation of ReIReS to realize an infrastructure that provides access to both digital and physical sources.