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Minutes of the business meeting

Minutes of the meeting of the board of Porta Historica, Brussels, 30 April 2009, by Sebastiaan Derks

Porta Historica 2009 Business Meeting

Koninklijke Commissie voor Geschiedenis (KCG)/Commission Royale d’Histoire (CRH) [Royal Historical Commission of Belgium], Brussels, 30 April 2009

Present: Gaëlle Béquet (ENC), Jonathan Blaney (IHR), Sebastiaan Derks (ING), Jean-Marie Duvosquel (KCG/CRH), Donald Haks (ING, Chair), Thérèse de Hemptinne (KCG/CRH), Walter Prevenier (KCG/CRH), Andrea Rzihacek (IMF), G. Vanthemsche (KCG/CRH), Karel Velle (KCG/CRH) and Jane Winters (IRH).

1. Welcome

The meeting was opened and the participants welcomed.

2. Announcements

2.1. The Academic Secretary of Porta Historica, Eef Dijkhof, was unable to attend. His place at the meeting was taken by Sebastiaan Derks.

2.2. The attempts to organise a session at the International Conference on Historical Sciences (ICHS) in 2010 in Amsterdam were not successful.

3. Report on the meeting in London

With thanks to the author, Eef Dijkhof, the report was endorsed.

4. Website and website committee

Those at the meeting were interested in the further development of the website, especially as far as the forum function is concerned.

The meeting also asked that reticence not be shown in sending out reminders and guidelines, as well as in setting deadlines regarding the contributions to be made to the website, such as information on each institute and the papers of the annual conference.

The 2009-2010 website committee is made up of Eef Dijkhof and Jane Winters.

5. Common project I : Quality criteria for digital source editions

The quality criteria set in London have now been placed on the website. The meeting discussed the follow-up.

The quality criteria are in English. Translations into French, German, Spanish and Dutch are desirable. Agreements will be made regarding which of the members will arrange for the translations and for their placement on the website.

Further, the following was agreed regarding the dissemination and publicising of the quality criteria:

- sending the criteria to eligible institutions such as the Commission Internationale de Diplomatique (committee of the ICHS) and the Association for Documentary Editing (US) with the request that they draw attention to them in their own circles;

- the use of own channels by every member of Porta Historica, such as for information purposes for historical journals in order to stimulate the reviewing of (digital) source editions;

- mentions in Porta Historica documentation, such as a brochure.

6. Common project II: Reviews on the Porta Historica Website

The Chair thanked Andrea Rzihacek and Jane Winters for their proposal. The meeting found the proposal to be a sound one and important. Subsequently, the following points of order were brought up:

- the Institute of Historical Research has offered to take on the job of expanding reviews and maintaining contacts with reviewers. The meeting expressed its thanks for this offer and was pleased to accept it;

- the aim is to include reviews of both printed and digital source editions;

- no requirements will be made regarding the language in which the reviews are written;

- to add impetus to the review section, reviews by staff of the institutes will be most welcome; - a list of editions that can be reviewed will be drawn up as well as a list of possible reviewers and these will be sent to Jane Winters as soon as possible.

Coordination will be in the hands of Andrea Rzihacek and Jane Winters.

7. Common project III: Bibliotheca Portae Historicae: A virtual bookshelf of digital source editions

The Chair recalled the presentations given in London by members of  Porta Historica about the digitisation of printed editions of source materials. There appear to be considerable differences in progress and methods. It would be very useful for researchers if Porta Historica were to draw up a list of printed, digitised source editions and were to offer access to these. The capacity to conduct simultaneous searches would be a step further for comparative or transnational research. It would also be useful to provide information about the different  methods commonly used, together with their advantages, disadvantages and costs.

No concrete proposal was put forward. The Chair proposed that a committee, for which the  IHR and ING would make themselves available, should develop a proposal. In this regard,  Gaëlle Béquet also recommended contacting the ENC in connection with the Telma portal, which probably already meets some of the needs. As a goal for the next annual meeting in 2010, the Chair proposed the presentation of a modest virtual bookshelf of digital source editions. The meeting approved this approach.

8. Cooperation with Libraries and Archives

Karel Velle submitted this item. For information purposes he handed out a memo. He pointed out that there are numerous international organisations in the community of archives and libraries. It is important for Porta Historica that it draws the attention of these organisations to its existence and activities and tries to effect structural cooperation. It still lacks a network for collective projects. Cooperation and attending international forums is therefore important. In this regard, he proposed taking initiatives and addressing a letter to at least the European Archives Group with the request to be allowed to present Porta Historica at the EAG conference.

The meeting found this to be a constructive idea. The concrete suggestion for cooperation was made of allowing the publishers of sources to input their expertise in cooperation with archive institutions. Karel Velle and Donald Haks will take action on this item.

9. What next for Porta Historica?

Donald Haks had sent out a memo to bring structure to discussions and plans. The following aspects were discussed:

- the differences between a forum/conference model and a project model. In the opinion of the meeting, a forum model (exchange of information, conferences) is sensible, but the ultimate goal of the network is the setting up or advancing of collective projects and acquiring subsidies for them.

- the place of archives and libraries. Should they be invited to become members of Porta Historica and is there a risk that in that case the identity of Porta Historica would be confused? The meeting stated that the goal of Porta Historica should be clear. A distinction between full members and associate members (archives and libraries) is an option.

- more members could increase the language problem. The meeting did not see many advantages in holding multi-language meetings. It would be an advantage, it was suggested,  if the secretariat could work in multiple languages.

- the expansion of Porta Historica through the inclusion of new members should be completed by 2010. The Chair proposed to publicise the coming expansion of the network in the autumn via the website and a brochure. Moreover, a number of institutions can be approached. These activities are to be undertaken in the autumn. At the meeting in Paris in 2010, Porta Historica can decide on the expansion.

10. Next Business Meeting

The meeting in Paris will be held in either May, June or September 2010. Gaëlle Béquet will return to this item.

11. Annual committee meeting

The committee for preparing the annual meeting in Paris in 2010 consists of Karel Velle and Gaëlle Béquet.

12. Other business

Thérèse de Hemptinne and Karel Velle were thanked for their excellent organisation of the meeting and the warm welcome in Brussels.

13. Close of the business meeting

May 2009

Sebastiaan Derks