Exploring the cultural heritage of the cross border region through a digital library and oral sources

The project EXPLORAL builds on the successful project Balkaneana funded under the IPA Cross-Border PROGRAMME “Greece – Albania 2007-2013” that delivered a multimodal digital library with content from the Central Public Library of Konitsa and the Municipal Library of Gjirokastra.
The overall objective is twofold: (i) to transform the Libraries into a reference point for all tourists visiting the cross-border area and (ii) identify and promote the common heritage of the cross-border areas of interest through the study and analysis of the oral history and tradition and its connection to the written content.
EXPLORAL includes the development of an application for mobile devices (mobile app) that includes interactive information on a map of the wider border area. The information will be provided to the user by selecting a point of interest (i.e. a block, square, street, or even a building or other cultural monument or natural heritage memorial). The interactive map will be connected with the content from oral sources and the already digitized material from Balkaneana that will result in an application with high cultural, ethnographic and touristic interest. Thus, this connection of the touristic information with valuable information acquired from oral and written sources, would result to transforming the Library, in its physical or digital form, to a reference point for all tourists in the area.
The end users could be divided to: (a) tourists, who will be equipped with a mobile app in order to get in depth knowledge for the area and get familiar not only with the sightseeing, but with the cultural and historical heritage, feel more like locals, when visiting the cross border area. (b) Visitors of the participating Libraries could benefit from the renovated infrastructure and services as well as from the EXPLORAL Network of Libraries and the interlibrary borrow system that incorporates. (c) Users that want to have remotely access to the digital content of the libraries in order not only to read an online book, but acquire in depth knowledge for the cross-border area of interest and its cultural, historical and ethnographic framework. These users could include people that have origins from the area and would like to look back into their memories and past as well as researchers and historians that want to exploit the content acquired through oral sources to study the common culture and history of the area.
However, the beneficiaries of the EXPLORAL solution include, also tour operators and tour agents as well as tourism professionals in general. These could exploit the EXPLORAL mobile app and provide cross-border touristic packages to clients, targeted to culture or history highlighting the common heritage and resources and probably the common local peoples’ memories on historical or cultural events.

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