Academy Job Shadow Days Report

Harriet Stroomberg at the Fryske Akademy

Harriet Stroomberg is a collection specialist at the International Institute for Social History (IISH). She shadowed Eduard Drenth, software architect/developer at the Fryske Akademy.

We called her while she was at the Akademy.

When we called you for an interview, you told us you were in the middle of a very interesting meeting and asked whether you could return the call in twenty minutes. Sounds like your job shadowing is a success. Are we right?

Yes, it’s very interesting here for all sorts of reasons. The HisGIS project for example, which concerns old maps of Friesland. Who lived where, who owned which plot of land? The Akademy scanned the maps and then used linked open data to connect them to contemporary data. It’s incredible what you can do with the results. For example, I saw images of old townscapes. You can compare the houses depicted in the old townscapes to the present-day situation with a tool that resembles Google Streetview. Awesome! We’re working on similar techniques at IISH. I’m an art historian, but it’s interesting to see the IT side of things here. Can I call you back later? We’re about to go to lunch.

We speak again after lunch.

Had you and Eduard met before?

No, this was the first time. But it was really nice to get to know him. I feel a lot of affection for Friesland because I used to spend every summer here as a child. I can also understand Frisian. I knew that the Akademy does a lot of work with language, and I wanted to see what they do with old maps. I got precisely what I wanted this morning.

Any surprises?

I hadn’t expected the building to be so big. It’s quite impressive. It was renovated last year and the results are splendid. The renovation actually involved linking different buildings into a single complex. There’s also a chapel, which has been turned into an office. I was just in the Coulonhûs, which dates from 1713. It has fantastic conference rooms with hand-painted wallpaper and very lovely stuccowork. I’m on my way to a lecture now, shall I ring you again at 3 p.m.?

The telephone rings at 3 p.m..

How was the lecture?

It was in Frisian, but I had no trouble understanding it. It was about the dissemination of dialects in Friesland down through the centuries. The researchers had used all sorts of documents, for example deeds, to construct maps showing how dialects spread geographically over time. Wonderful to see a visualisation of that process.

How do you feel about your visit?

Eduard gave me a tour, showed me where he worked, and introduced me to many of his colleagues. Next week he’ll be visiting me at IISH. We’re going to see how we can work together. Our two institutes already cooperate because there’s a lot of overlap between IISH’s research and our research at the Fryske Akademy. But it’s a good idea to get to know the people as well. To me, the Royal Academy stands for quality and class, something both institutes have. I’m going to stop and pick up a bag of dúmkes, traditional Frisian cookies, on my way to the railway station. The trip will take more than two hours, but if the train is as quiet as it was this morning, I can spend that time reading and working.