The RISM Digital Center is part of the Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM), the international organisation founded in 1952 whose aim is to inventory music sources worldwide and make them accessible. The RISM network also comprises the RISM Editorial Center in Germany and working groups in over 30 countries. The RISM project is one of the most significant collaborative efforts in the humanities, but it also provides arguably one of the very few datasets worldwide that deserve the label of Big Data in musicology.
The mission of the RISM Digital Center is twofold. Firstly, it leads the development of a digital infrastructure for the RISM. In this context, its role is to ensure that the RISM project maintains a strategic position within the large international network of digital resources for research. Its duties include:
- the development and the maintenance of open-source tools for applications focusing on data creation, curation, and publication in the domain of music sources;
- the participation in the establishment, teaching and promotion of best practice in the domain, and the offering of first-level consulting support to research projects in musicology;
- the maintenance of close contacts with music libraries and other research infrastructures in the domain and beyond, such as the R-music-projects, the MEI Community, the NFDI4Culture Consortium, or DaSCH.
Secondly, the RISM Digital Center fulfils the role of a Swiss RISM working group by inventorying music sources in Switzerland. It inventories music sources in libraries, archives, and private collections in Switzerland and links them with related resources, including with digitization resources and content-based resources.
The RISM Digital Center was established in 2021 as a continuation of the Swiss RISM Office. This evolution was the result of more than a decade of active contribution to the field of digital methods, including the development of tools highly relevant for the entire RISM community and beyond.
The Swiss RISM Office was founded in 1956. Since 1996 it has operated as an independent association mainly financed through contributions for projects and commissions for inventorization by libraries and archives. The following founding members established the Swiss RISM Office on 21st June 1996: