The University of Groningen Library (UB) is launching a digital, interactive map called Tales from Frisia. The map connects locations in Frisia—currently Northern Netherlands and North-West Germany—to books from the Special Collections of the UB and thus tells the rich intellectual and cultural history of the city of Groningen and the far-reaching Ommelands.
The interactive map provides access to a myriad of stories through your mobile phone or computer. For example, at the Convent church in Thesinge you will discover that a book of hours was written there around 1515, with beautiful decorations by Groningen illuminator Frans Maler. You can easily pull this story, including pictures of the book of hours, from your back pocket or backpack with your mobile phone or computer. But the map also tells the story of Pieter Beynstma from Stavoren, who filled his brand-new books from Venice with knowledge acquired in Italy. And that of pastor Rodolphus Kannegheter from Noordlaren, who, at the end of the 15th century, owned the most richly illustrated book of that period, a world chronicle of wonders.
The decision to choose books from before 1614 is deliberate. In that year, the UG was founded, but that did not come out of the blue, tells Adrie van der Laan, Curator of the Special Collections of the UB. ‘The foundation of the Groningen Academy was a highlight in a development that had been going on for centuries. It was a crowning achievement of the rich cultural and intellectual climate that reigned in the Frisia region. This map wishes to show that as well.’
The launch of Tales from Frisia is part of a larger project in which the UB is digitizing handwritten books and books printed before 1614 and making them freely accessible online. Tales from Frisia shines a light on these books in a completely new way. Moreover, the geographical tags make it possible to approach the books from a new perspective and draw unexpected connections. The idea is to keep expanding the number of stories on the map and to connect them to collections of heritage partners from the region.
Tales from Frisia is available at https://frisia.rug.nl.
Adrie van der Laan
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