Call for papers | Programme | Registration | Practical

48th Annual Conference of IALHI-International Association of Labour History Institutions
20th Anniversary Conference of
Worklab-International Association of Labour Museums
Ghent, Belgium, 6-9 September 2017

Digital Dreams

Information Technology, Social History Research and the Future of Archives, Museums and Libraries

Conference location: De Krook City Library of Ghent
Hosted by Amsab-Institute of Social History

Call for Papers

The use of computers and information technology in museums, archives and libraries has been going on for several years now, however in a number of aspects the digital era in the sector is only beginning, both in the way of opportunities (think Augmented Reality) or as a threat (think Digital Dark Age). The emerging new IT technologies are challenging and changing the traditional policies of museums, archives and research institutes. Smartphones, networks and GIS technologies open up dazzling new opportunities of transmission of our collections and new communication strategies. But will the digital era be a dream or a nightmare? At what cost will it come? Will the new technologies be global or rather widen the gap with the South?

How will IT change the agenda, methods and needs of research, collection management and public programmes in the domain of labour and social history? Can digital technology open up closed collections of workers’ culture or help us bring the history of the labour movement to a larger audience? The international conference Digital Dreams will bring together museum curators, collection managers and researchers in the field of social history to jointly discuss common issues of existing and emerging digital opportunities. The conference will not be limited to theoretical approaches but will also consider best practices and best cases and look for prospects of collaboration on joint research projects.

Special attention will be given to the implementation of technologies that will further open up our collections for research (think Linked Open Data). This is undoubtedly a two way lane: research will help archives, libraries and museums to collect and preserve the collections in innovating ways (think Crowd Sourcing) and to disseminate cultural heritage to new and much broader user groups (think Virtual Exhibitions). On the other hand, virtualization, digitization and cloud technologies will offer new opportunities to researchers on an unseen scale (think Text Mining).

The conference Digital Dreams is organized by IALHI-International Association of Labour History Institutions and Worklab-International Association of Labour Museums, with the support of ITH-International Conference of Labour and Social History and ELHN-European Labour History Network. Hosted in Ghent, Belgium by Amsab-Institute of Social History.

We encourage museum practitioners, archivists and researchers to submit papers that relate to the wide theme of the application of IT technologies to the preservation and transmission of cultural heritage collections and social and labour history research. We welcome theoretical and methodological approaches and challenges as well as presentations of cases, tools and best practices. Papers presented to the conference are encouraged to deal with one or some of the following topics:

  • The Virtual Museum: Electronic Guides and Digital Exhibitions
  • Hypercities: Virtual Walking and Augmented Reality
  • Cyberspaces: Blogs, Mashups and Social Media
  • In The Cloud: Electronic Journals and Digital Publishing
  • Distant Reading and Blended Teaching
  • User Acceptance Testing: How to Poll Your Public and Get Feedback?
  • Games For Heritage
  • Best Practices of Digitization
  • The Born-Digital Issue
  • Long Term Storage, Digital Vaults and Persistent IDs
  • The Meta-World of Metadata
  • A New Era Of Licensing: Public Domain and Open Access
  • The Challenge of Acquisition: What Are Digital Depositors Expecting?
  • Crowdsourcing and You
  • E-Collaboratories and Virtual Research Platforms
  • Data Mining, Statistics and Data Visualization
  • Text Analysis, Topic Modelling and Natural Language Processing
  • Geo-data, Cartographic Modelling and GIS
  • Linked Open Data, Wikidata and Wikipedia
  • The Production of Meaning: OCR, Text Encoding and the Semantic Web
  • Multilingual in a Global World: Translation and Transcription

The Call for Papers is open until 30 June 2017. Please fill in the registration form below. Conference participation is without a fee, however travel and accommodation costs are at your expense.

IALHI brings together more than hundred archives, libraries and research centres in the field of social and labour history from all over the world. The network organises an annual conference for its members where expertise on cases and practices is exchanged. IALHI also hosts the Social History Portal (, which contains more than two million records of its members’ catalogues and organises a widely read News Service. More info at Worklab provides a forum for museums collecting and conserving working class culture, work processes and the labour movement. The network coordinates the interests of its members and publishes a newsletter. More info at This conference is the first event where IALHI and Worklab are working together. What makes it even more special is that Worklab is celebrating its 20th anniversary as a network.


Wednesday 6 September

Location Amsab-ISH, Bagattenstraat 174

16.00 – IALHI Board Meeting

18.00 – Reception and registration of participants. Guided tour to the new premisses of Amsab-ISH

Thursday 7 September

Location De Krook, Miriam Makebaplein 1

09.00 – Coffee and registration of participants

10.00 – Opening words

  • Kris Biebaut, Director of The Krook (to be confirmed)
  • Geert Van Goethem (IALHI) and Kalle Kallio (Worklab)

10.30 – IALHI General Assembly. Worklab General Assembly (location to be confirmed)

12.00 – Lunch

13.00 – IALHI and Worklab Member presentations 1

14.30 – Coffee Break

15.00 – IALHI and Worklab Member presentations 2

16.30 – Closing of the first conference day

18.00 – Reception hosted by the City of Ghent. Welcoming by Mayor Daniel Termont (to be confirmed) (location City Hall, Botermarkt 1)

19.30 – Dinner (self financed) (location to be confirmed)

Friday 8 September

Location De Krook, Miriam Makebaplein 1

Conference Part I. Theoretical Approaches

08.30 – Coffee

09.00 – Key note speaker

09.45 – Session 1. Theory

11.15 – Coffee break

11.30 –Session 2. Method

13.00 – Lunch

Conference Part II. Cases & Practices

13.30 – Key note speaker

14.15 – Session 3. Cases

15.45 – Coffee break

16.00 – Session 4. Practices

17.30 – Closing of the second conference day

19.00 – Conference dinner (location to be confirmed)

Saturday 9 September

Location De Krook, Miriam Makebaplein 1

Conference Part III. Tools & Challenges

08.30 – Coffee

09.00 – Key note speaker

09.45 – Session 5. Tools

11.15 – Coffee break

11.30 – Session 6. Challenges

13.00 – Closing of the conference

13.15 – Lunch

14.30 – Excursion: Guided tour Red Walk of Ghent. Visit to MIAT Museum about Industry, Labour and Textile (location Minnemeers 10)


Title of your presentation:
Abstract (max. 500 words):
Short biography (max. 200 words):
This is a short IALHI presentation (max. 10 minutes) (only for IALHI members, scheduled on Thursday 7 September - when in doubt leave blank):
Will participate in conference dinner Friday 8 September:*
Indicate meal preferences:
Will participate in conference excursion Saturday 9 September:*
Indicate mobility challenges:
Your remarks:


Conference fee and registration

There is no conference fee. The conference is free for IALHI and Worklab members. If your institution is not a member, you are welcome to the conference. However we may invite your institution to become member of either the IALHI or Worklab networks. Free trial membership is available on demand.

Lunch and coffee at the conference are free. The conference dinner and excursion are for members only. Travel and subsistence are at your expense.

Please fill in the registration form. Only registered participants will be allowed at the conference. Please indicate the topic of your presentation and a short abstract and biography. You will be notified of the admission of your presentation. If you want to participate at the conference dinner please indicate any meal preferences. Please also register in advance if you want to participate in the excursion.

How to get there?

Arriving by airplane

  • Brussels Zaventem Airport. The airport has a railway station at ground level with direct trains to Ghent.
  • Brussels South Charleroi. There are bus connections to railway station Brussels Zuid/Midi where you can take a direct train to Ghent.

Arriving by train

  • Railway stations Brussels Zuid/Midi and Antwerp Centraal or Berchem have direct train connections to railway station Ghent Sint Pieters.
  • At railway station Ghent Sint Pieters take tram number 1 to the city centre. Get off at stop Savaanstraat. Pass through side street Bagattenstraat for a 10 minute walk to conference centre De Krook.

Arriving by car

  • Arriving in the city centre take city ringway R40 and follow P-route signs for underground parking. Closest to the conference is Parking Gent Zuid (P3).
  • Caution: Ghent has a large pedestrian zone with limited car accessibility. Take care of cyclists who rule these streets.


The conference does not endorse any hotels. Conference centre De Krook is only a 15 minute walk from the historic city centre around Korenmarkt and Vrijdagmarkt. Please refer to the website of the City of Ghent for information on accommodation.

Conference dinner

More information will follow.

Conference excursion

The conference excursion will be a guided walking tour on Saturday 9 September through the historic centre of Ghent exploring the highlights of 150 years of social history.

Ghent in the 19th century was a pioneer of the Industrial Revolution and was known as the Manchester of the continent. The city boasted an early and strong socialist movement especially known for its cooperative institutions under the umbrella name of Vooruit (Forwards) still visible today as landmarks in the city centre. For more information see the booklet The Red Walk at the website of Amsab-ISH.

The excursion will end at the MIAT Museum About Industry, Labour and Textile where there will be occasion for rest and a guided visit to the museum's collection and exhibitions.

The excursion is free for conference participants.

This conference was organized with the support of:

IALHI logo AMSAB logo UGENT logo WORKLAB logo