Mediateka CLZ – multimedia archive of oral history of Białystok and its area is the largest professional archive of this kind in Podlachia. It was created in 2010 to protect and spread the knowledge of the multicultural heritage and history of Białystok and Podlachia. Collecting and sharing interviews with witnesses of history, we save the collective memory of our common past.
So far, we have collected over 200 stories from the inhabitants of Białystok and over 10,000 digitalized iconographic materials – photographs, documents, souvenirs. The original Mediateka CLZ series include “Bojary” (the history of one of the oldest and most colourful Białystok districts, unique in terms of architecture and importance for the city's history) and “The Oldest Inhabitants of Białystok” (stories of the residents of the city about the most important events of the 20th century). You can also find there memories of Białystok esperantists – you will get to know, why they became interested in that language.
Since 2014, Mediateka CLZ has introduced Białystok microcommunities themed series. This way we try to show the contemporary cultural diversity of the city and its area, the diversity based not only on language or culture, but also on hobbies and interests. So far, in the “Microcommunities” series we interviewed players of the Lowlanders Białystok American football team, members of the Białystok Aeroclub, Podlachian sailors, divers, and modellers.
Mobile stand for photographic reproduction
On the basis of collected memories and visual materials, in cooperation with residents and historians, several photo-books have been released, including “Bojary” (4 volumes), “Uchwyty”, “Lowlanders”; some exhibitions have been made – “Ah! What a wedding it was”, “Bojary”, “Cool Summer Holidays”; dozens of meetings, presentations, and discussions took place, as well as “Discover Bojary” city-based game and art project, with the participation of the Bojary inhabitans, whose memories had been recorded for Mediateka CLZ.
The most important goal of Mediateka CLZ is to share the gathered assets with inhabitants of Białystok, as well as with people not connected to our city. Therefore, in 2016, thanks to the subsidy from the “Kultura Cyfrowa” program carried out by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, we started the “e-Mediateka CLZ” project, whose main goal was to professionally process and make available on the Internet over two thousand digital objects from the current resources of our multimedia archive. We published this way 80 recordings (108 hours in total) and over 2200 photographs, documents, and souvenirs documenting Białystok and its inhabitants in the space of over 100 years – the oldest published content is from the late 19th century.
Interviewing a witness of history
It would not have been possible without previous huge work. In the first place, the digitization workshop at our headquarters at 19 Warszawska Street was equipped with a new digitalization stand – modern, equipped with professional computer and digitizing hardware. Thanks to this, we could significantly improve the quality of processing the assets that we share. In addition, the studio has been equipped with mobile photographic reproduction equipment, thanks to which we have the opportunity to digitize objects, which for various reasons cannot be brought there.
Using the standards developed by such experienced digitizing and archive institutions as Karta Centre, National Library, and Podlachian Digital Library, we could also catalog and describe the materials we collected in a better way. This translates directly into the possibility of finding them easier and, as a result, using them by the recipients.
Special descriptions were created for the recordings made available as part of the project to facilitate the reception for blind people (audio description) as well as Polish and English subtitles, that will be useful both to hearing impaired people and to foreigners.
And interview with Bernard Wasilewski available on www.centrumzamenhofa.pl/mediateka
The second group of available materials is over 2,000 iconographic objects: archival photos, including the oldest of our collection, from the second half of the 19th century, and scans of documents from family archives of the people living in Białystok. All of them can be viewed on the Internet, thus complementing stories told in the interviews, but also providing cognitive material for all those interested in the city's past.
Descriptions of photographs and documents have been supplemented with the alternative texts (for visually impaired users), keywords, copyright and availability information. All these activities are necessary to fully complete the most important stage of the task – to share Mediateka CLZ with a wide audience with diverse needs and requirements. Sharing our collections, we use standards that provide access to people with disabilities (i.e. WCAG 2.0 – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).
Participants of the “Timeline” master classes
One of the priorities of this project was to make the history of Bialystok and its inhabitants available not only in the city. Therefore, as part of cooperation with our partners, the resources were also made available on the website of the project partners’ websites: Podlachian Library and Karta Centre an on swww.europeana.eu – the largest European online platform for sharing cultural resources.
Mediateka CLZ has also huge educational potential. Therefore, the project website includes ready-made educational scenarios on the history and culture of Białystok, which teachers or educators can use to diversify their classes. All scenarios use the Mediateka CLZ' resources, they also allow to replace the fragments of films and photographs we propose with the ones selected by the teacher so that the workshop can be adapted to, for example, the currently discussed topic. As part of the project, we also conducted a seminar for teachers and educators under the title “Using of Social Archive Resources in Education”. The speakers, besides the staff members of the Białystok Cultural Centre / Ludwik Zamenhof Centre, included the representatives of such nationwide centres dealing with archiving, as Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and House of Meeting History. The publication summarizing this meeting, containing the text of speakers and example scenarios, is also on the project website.
House archive of a witness of history shared to be digitized and published on Mediateka CLZ
To encourage the youngest users to use the collections of Mediateka CLZ , we have also created simple games, such as jigsaw puzzle or concentration game, which use the resources made available under the project. During the play, they bring to the users the historical image of Bialystok. In addition, the site has an interactive map that allows you to compare the contemporary city with the one preserved on archival photographs. The map, like the whole page, is responsive - it can be conveniently viewed both on the computer and on the phone.
We encourage you to visit the project website www.centrumzamenhofa.pl/mediateka, where we will successively upload additional materials.
Project media partners:
The project was cofunded by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage