Wikimedia Project: Digitalizing Engravings and Lithographs from the Old and Rare Books Collection


An account of the Wikimedia Project by Bert & Lilian Mellink, two professional photographers from The Netherlands.

In early 2014, the Peace Palace Library decided to participate in the Wikimedia Project . Two professional photographers, Lilian en Bert Mellink, who have been involved in many photography projects of the Peace Palace, were selected to carry out this special task.

‘Earlier this year, we had a meeting about the possibility of digitalizing thousands of engravings and lithographs from the collection of the Library. The purpose was to disclose these treasures from the collection on the internet to a worldwide audience'.

We were very enthusiastic about the project and accepted it immediately. Firstly because it was a challenge from a technical perspective. Secondly, our contribution would make it possible to have these images made accessible through the internet.

We proceeded by having the Librarians select the most beautiful images.  The century old books had to be opened very carefully and delicately. We, in turn would take the photograph, sometimes to catch the right angle, by standing on a ladder.

For three months, one day a week, we descended in the basement of the Library with our special equipment. Each photograph was indexed in a database and connected with a book request number in the Catalogue of the Library.

The result was a magnificent collections of images of portraits, maps, designs of fortifications, battles, execution, torture, wars, allegories, peace negotiations etc. These visuals from the collection now have a more prominent place online and illustrate the contents of the written materials in a fascinating way. As a result, it is now possible to enlarge the images and study them in detail. The images are freely available and can be found through the website of WikiMedia.