Annotran in action

Birkbeck Centre for Technology and Publishing unveils open-source translation tool based on Hypothesis

The Open Library of Humanities is pleased to reveal the first of its software initiatives, funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Birkbeck, University of London: Annotran. Developed by Dr Marija Katic and Professor Martin Paul Eve in the Centre for Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London, the tool is based on the Hypothesis annotation framework and allows users to write and view translations of any web pages. Although the tool is designed to be integrated with the Open Library of Humanities platform, it can actually be run on any web page, by any publisher.

Speaking about the tool, Professor Eve said: “it is clear that open access is important for the humanities disciplines. If you cannot get to an article or book because you are priced out of exclusionary systems of knowledge exchange, that is terrible. However, the paywall barrier is only one dimension of closed access. If you are a monolingual reader, much scholarly material may be inaccessible in your first language. By building technologies that allow people to translate between themselves, we make the first step towards a fresh scholarly communications paradigm that focuses on communication, rather than just on accreditation. Of course, there is still much to do: without incentives we would not expect huge uptake of translation authorship. However, Annotran represents a positive initial move.”

Demonstration of OLH translation tool, Annotran from Open Library of Humanities on Vimeo.

In the coming days, the development team plan to host a publicly accessible beta version of the tool so that interested parties can test the tool, report bugs, and participate in advancing the goals of open, online translation. The code for Annotran is available openly at

Libraries outside the US, UK, EU or Canada interested in joining the OLH Library Partnership Subsidy model should contact Professor Martin Paul Eve: UK-based libraries can join through Jisc Collections at US-based libraries can join through LYRASIS at European libraries can sign up at

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