From keyword search to concept mining – Keyword Generator as a tool for the study of historical news media

This blog is written by dr. Pim Huijnen and research programmer Juliette Lonij. Pim worked as a Researcher-in-residence at the KB in the first half of 2015. The tool that is discussed below is available at


Historical newspapers have traditionally been popular sources to study public mentalities and collective cultures within historical scholarship. At the same time, they have been known as notoriously time-consuming and complex to analyze. The recent digitization of newspapers and the use of computers to gain access to the growing mass of digital corpora of historical news media are altering the historian’s heuristic process in fundamental ways.

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Abstracts received for Researcher-in-residence 2016

Below you will find all abstracts that were submitted and unfortunately not accepted for the 2016 run of the Researcher-in-residence programme. The abstracts are in alphabetical order. The accepted projects and their abstracts can be found here.

We want to thank all researchers for their interesting proposals, wish them all the best for 2016 and hope to see them again in a following year!

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And now… the results of our Researcher-in-residence CfP!

Shortly before the Christmas break, we had a very interesting afternoon discussing the wonderful projects that were submitted following our Researcher-in-residence call for proposals. We received 11 projects with varying plans and end results, but could unfortunately only accept two. Luckily, we did not have to make this difficult choice alone, but were supported by a group of professors from all over the country who are involved with Digital Humanities research.

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Extension deadline KB Researcher-in-residence to 8 November!

Good news everyone!

We are able to extend the deadline for your submission for the KB Researcher-in-residence with a week. That means you don’t have to work this weekend to get your proposal in order, but you can leave that until 8 November!

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your proposal, feel free to contact us at

Read the full Call, Terms & Conditions and FAQ for more information.

Call for proposals KB Researcher-in-residence

The Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB), National Library of the Netherlands is seeking proposals for its Researcher-in-residence program. This program offers a chance to early career researchers to work in the library with the Digital Humanities team and KB data. In return, we learn how researchers use the data of the KB. Together we will address your research question in a 6 month project using the digital collections of the KB and computational techniques. The output of the project will be incorporated in the KB Research Lab and is ideally beneficial for a larger (scholarly) community.

The KB and digitisation

The Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB), National Library of the Netherlands  is a research library with a broad collection in the fields of Dutch history, culture and society, and as a national library collects and stores all (digital) publications that appear in the Netherlands, as well as a part of the international publications about the Netherlands. The KB has planned to have digitised and OCRed its entire collection of books, periodicals and newspapers from 1470 onward by the year 2030. Already in 2013, 10% of this enormous task was completed, resulting in 73 million digitised pages, either from the KB itself or via public-private partnerships as Google Books and ProQuest. Over 1 million books, newspapers and magazines are currently available via the search portal


The project will be carried out in the Research Department of the KB and there will be two consecutive placements in 2016.

Who are we looking for?

Early career researchers who are:

  • PhD-students or have obtained their PhD between 2010 and 2015,
  • Employed at a university or research institute in the EU,
  • Interested in using one (or more) of the digital collections of the KB,
  • Available for 0.5 fte over a period of 6 months (Jan – Jun 2016 or Jul – Dec 2016) and able to spend at least 1 day a week at the KB.

What can we offer you?

  • A secondment with the KB,
  • Access to all data sets of the KB,
  • An office space,
  • Travel costs within the Netherlands,
  • Support from a programmer, collection and data specialists.

Which collections do we have?

You can use any digital collection of the KB and even combine it with an external collection, if copyright allows. Several of our digitised collections are described in more detail on our website, such as the parliamentary papers and the medieval illuminated manuscripts.

You can also browse through our collection of more than 1 million newspapers, magazines, radio bulletins and books on

What kind of projects are we looking for?

We’re open to all kinds of projects that use our data and benefit your research and other users of the KB and/or the KB Research Lab. Read our blog for more inspiration.

One of the previous Researchers-in-residence has worked on a best practice method for concept searching using keyword generation. Another team has worked on creating a data set that makes image similarity search a real possibility for all photos in our digitised historical newspapers.

For answer to more questions, read our FAQ. Please also read the terms of this call and placement. Respondents are urged to contact in advance of proposal submission to discuss eligibility, project details, prerequisites, and KB support with the Digital Humanities team.

How do I apply?

Fill out this form before 1 8 November 2015 to submit your project. Don’t forget to read the terms and conditions of this call and agree to them. You will be notified of the outcome in December.

FAQ KB Researcher-in-residence

I don’t live or work in the Netherlands. Can I apply?
Probably! Contact us at and we’ll discuss your options.

I want to use my own dataset. Is that possible?
Sure! As long as you also use one of the sets of the KB and it doesn’t limit the publication of the project end results.

I don’t know how to code, is that a problem?
Not at all. We have skilled programmers who can help you with your project or we will try to find a match for you if you prefer someone else. This would mean submitting as a team and will cut the budget in half. Reach out to us to discuss the options.

I don’t speak Dutch. Is your content still interesting to me?
That depends on your research question :) It might not be so appealing to linguists, but could offer an novel collection for computer scientists. Contact us to see which collections we have and we can discuss what might be the most interesting set for you.

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“FoCon – Foto’s in en uit context” door dr. Martijn Kleppe

Deze blogpost is geschreven door dr. Martijn Kleppe en is herblogt van (17 april 2015). Sinds publicatie zijn enkele zaken binnen het onderzoek aangepast. Binnenkort schrijft Martijn hierover een uitgebreidere, Engelstalige blog.

Sinds 1 april ben ik voor een half jaar ‘onderzoeker te gast’ op de onderzoeksafdeling van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek om te werken aan mijn project ‘FoCon – Foto’s in en uit context’. Het is een erg leuke kans omdat ik de ruimte krijg om de digitale kranten– en tijdschriftencollectie alsmede het webarchief van de KB te verkennen waarbij ik me vooral richt op het gepubliceerde beeldmateriaal.

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Supporting History Research with Temporal Topic Previews at Querying Time

This post is written by Dr. Jiyin He – Researcher-in-residence at the KB Research Lab from June – October 2014.

Being able to study primary sources is pivotal to the work of historians. Today’s mass digitisation of historical records such as books, newspapers, and pamphlets now provides researchers with the opportunity to study an unprecedented amount of material without the need for physical access to archives. Access to this material is provided through search systems, however, the effectiveness of such systems seems to lag behind the major web search engines. Some of the things that make web search engines so effective are redundancy of information, that popular material is often considered relevant material, and that the preferences of other users may be used to determine what you would find relevant. These properties do not hold or are unavailable for collections of historical material. In the past 3 months I have worked at the KB as a guest researcher. Together with Dr. Samuël Kruizinga, a historian, we explored how we can enhance the search system at KB to assist the search challenges of the historian. In this blogpost, I will share our experience of working together, the system we have developed, as well as lessons learnt during this project.

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Researcher-in-residence at the KB

At DH2013, we presented a poster to ask researchers what they need from a National Library. The responses varied from ‘Nothing, just give us your data’ to ‘We’d like to be fully supported with tools and services’, showing once again that different users have different requirements. In order to accommodate all groups of researchers, the Collections department of the KB, who ‘own’ the data, and the Research department, where tools and services are developed, combined efforts and spoke to scholars to  discuss the best method of supporting their work. However, we noticed that it was still quite difficult to get a good idea of how they used our data and in what way our actions and decisions would benefit them. Also, it seemed that researchers were often not aware of what activities the we undertake in this respect, which led to work being done twice.

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