The Meertens Instituut is an institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. It has a long tradition in the documentation and research of Dutch language and everyday culture. It possesses over 2 km of archival material, 15 TB digital data, 6000 hour of audio recordings and 70.000 books. The institute is part of the Humanities Cluster, employs ca. 70 people and has an annual budget of 4.5 million €.
A RICH resource
Numbers will give you the facts but they don’t tell everything. For me the best thing about the Meertens Instituut is the collection. The institute has been gathering information for over eighty years and the collection offers a unique and rich resource for researchers and interested parties.
In the first picture (above) is the map ‘Offers voor mooi weer’ (Offerings for Good Weather). It is part of the collections of the Meertens Instituut. The map shows a clear border between the offerings of an egg and a sausage. This border posed a fundamental problem for researchers. Cultural borders were supposed to be hundreds or maybe even thousands years old and this one follows the border between the Netherlands and Belgium of 1839. How can that be explained? You can read more about it in De Kaartenbank. In the second picture you can see the ‘Volkskundige Trefwoordenbank’ (the Folklore Keyword List). It features a prominent role in J.J. Volkskuil’s seven-volume novel about the Meertens Instituut, called Het Bureau. And the tape in the third picture is part of a substantial audio collection of over 6000 hours.
Next to being Collection Manager and member of the Management Team, my role is to facilitate innovation as a Digital Curator. An example will give the best insight: one of my most successful projects is The Dutch Dialect Database. At the website you can search through, listen to and download all the Dutch dialects spoken in the Netherlands and abroad. The Dutch Dialect Database received funding form DANS and the KNAW.
Sounds of the netherlands
If you want to know more about the audio collection, listen to Frits Spits at the ‘Taalstaat’ (NPO radio). Together with Marc van Oostendorp and Kees Grijpink, I was interviewd about the symposium 'Geluiden van Nederland' (Sounds of the Netherlands).
For more radio interviews about the collections of the Meertens Instituut please go to this page.