Read-it project

About the project

READ-IT (Reading Europe Advanced Data Investigation Tool) is a 3-year (2018-2021) transnational, interdisciplinary Research & Development project funded by the Joint Programming Initiative for Cultural Heritage (JPICH). READ-IT will build an unique large-scale, user-friendly, open access, semantically-enriched investigation tool to identify and share groundbreaking evidence about the Cultural Heritage of reading in Europe from the 18th century to the present day.

This interdisciplinary collaboration between digital humanists, human & social sciences scholars and computer researchers will investigate innovative ways of gathering new resources through crowdsourcing and web-crawling, as well as by linking and reusing pre-existing datasets. Extracting descriptors from a sample of multilingual textual sources will contribute to a robust ontology as well as to multiple thesauri of invariants accounting for the lowest common denominator of European reading experiences across times and cultures. READ-IT will thus ensure the sustainable and reusable aggregation of qualitative data allowing an in-depth analysis of the Cultural Heritage of reading. The corpus encompassed is a rich ‘human archive’ in multiple media and languages depicting a transaction between reading subjects and reading material. Yet it is currently scattered and insufficiently labeled, thus untraceable. Without gathering, describing and structuring, it will remain unknown.

READ-IT consists of a robust consortium of 5 academic partners and 1 SME from 4 European countries: The Institute of Czech Literature, Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czechia; The Open University, UK; Utrecht University, Netherlands; CNRS-IRISA, Rennes, France; Le Mans University-3LAM, France; and the SME, IN2. The consortium is led by Le Mans University and the participants have international level of expertise in the different strands of research. Established stakeholders in education, cultural industries and institutions, and disability advocacy groups will participate in evaluation and contribute to dissemination through joint events. Colleagues in 4 Associate Partner institutions – Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany;  Universita Degli Studi di Milano, Italy; Queen Mary University of London, UK;  University of Tours, France – will contribute specific expertise and data.

READ-IT will maximize research outputs and foster further active engagement with the digital Cultural Heritage of reading in Europe through ‘beyond the state of the art’ smart APIs and user interfaces designed for the co-curation of personal collections and memories of reading. This will shed light on the societal impact of digitally mediated knowledge and of public engagement with the Cultural Heritage of European print culture.

READ-IT is essentially an “enabler”: State-of-the art technology in Semantic Web and information systems will provide a versatile, end-users oriented environment enabling scholars and ordinary readers to retrieve information from a vast amount of community-generated digital data leading to new understanding about the circumstances and effects of reading in Europe. For example, a series of uses cases will test how READ-IT answers, HSS research on reading experiences by examining its usability for: (1) the lexicographic analysis and interpretation of multilingual printed and handwritten textual sources in German, English, French and Italian (18-20th); (2) the identification of reading education in 20th C Eastern European contexts; (3) the reconstruction of intellectual and literary reading practices in France-Germany 18th to 20th C; (4) the discovery of experiences of blind and partially sighted readers; (5) the observation of self- referencing across young readers communities (Czech Rep.-UK 20th-21st C); (6) the characterization of “stalking” as a contemporary form of reading on social media (France-Spain 21st C).