Launching Wikisource Loves Manuscripts for the digital preservation of over 20,000 Indonesian Manuscripts

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On the occasion of the 24th International Mother Language Day, Wikimedia’s volunteer community in Indonesia launched Wikisource Loves Manuscripts to digitize and transcribe more than 20,000 pages of Indonesian manuscripts. The launch took place at the National Library of Indonesia and was hosted by Pusat Pengkajian Islam dan Masyarakat (PPIM), a prominent manuscript research institute and a lead partner for the project. The public event was attended by 80 participants which included librarians, academics, international institutions, project partners, and the Indonesian Wikimedia and Wikisource volunteer communities.

Through the Wikisource Loves Manuscripts project, volunteers and PPIM will not only digitize and transcribe more than 20,000 pages of manuscripts with indigenous languages and scripts but will also share the content on Wikisource, promoting global access and utilization.

The project will digitize manuscripts from three different regions of Indonesia; Bali, Java, and Sumatra; and is inspired by the Balinese Wikimedia community’s initiative WikiPustaka, a digital library of Balinese language manuscripts that runs on Wikisource software, where more than 3,000 culturally relevant texts were cataloged in an open-access scholarly publication and transcribed on Wikisource so they can be referenced in research and used on other Wikimedia projects. 

“Many manuscript owners in Bali don’t have a catalog for their manuscript collections. Through this project, I can assist the Balinese people in preserving their manuscript data on a digital platform, and I have a chance to learn and create manuscript metadata, to retype and to proofread manuscripts,”

Carma Citrawati, a Wikimedia contributor who spearheaded the WikiPustaka project. 

Wikisource Loves Manuscripts closely aligns with the Wikimedia Foundation’s effort to improve digital access to reliable and locally relevant sources that are crucial for Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects, as well as the wider internet. Similar to how Balinese WikiPustaka is being used in university programs, where young people are learning to type in their own script using a custom-built on-screen keyboard; thereby furthering multilingual education.

The larger Wikisource Loves Manuscripts project is led by PPIM and Wikimedia Indonesia, it is being supported by Wikimedia Foundation to promote knowledge equity and;

  1. UNESCO (Jakarta) through their digitization expertise and connections with relevant Indonesian institutions. 
  2. READ-COOP through their Transkribus tool (an AI-driven handwriting recognition tool, to assist in the digitization process). This will enable volunteers to train Optical Character Recognition (OCR) models to recognize manuscripts accurately using their own transcriptions and corrections – making it easier to digitize manuscripts at scale. Rather than having to manually transcribe every manuscript, volunteers can just check and correct the machine transcriptions. 

If you are a part of Wikimedia communities that are interested in digitizing manuscripts and developing handwriting recognition models, we would like to invite you to participate as learning partners in our project. You can sign up on our dedicated project page and our team will reach out to you soon to discuss your involvement. We look forward to collaborating with you on this exciting initiative.

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