When Parker on the Web 2.0 launched in 2018, it was the culmination of a long-term development plan to host an international collaborative project on sustainable infrastructure at no cost to the user. The engineering effort was immense, and that effort paid off: we saw a nearly 10-fold increase in visitors to the site, and the incorporation of IIIF functionality to the Parker manuscript content allowed the digital objects to be used in a myriad of new projects, from AI-driven initiatives like handwritten text recognition and feature recognition, to crowdsourcing transcription projects, and aggregation and reuse across multiple platforms. While Parker 2.0 was a technical success, the intellectual content of the site - the painstakingly-crafted descriptive metadata produced in the late 2000s that drove Parker on the Web 1.0 - was not fully added to the new platform. Thanks to the encouragement of dedicated Parker on the Web users and scholars, we were able to prioritize a large-scale reassessment of the project descriptive metadata, identify gaps, and restore the manuscript descriptions to their full glory - improving the discovery functionality for the site and providing users with rich descriptions for every manuscript in the collection. Parker on the Web 2.1, released on March 3, 2021, finally completes the migration of the project from a stand-alone site built on bespoke software and using a customized and unique metadata structure to a sustainable and extensible collaboration built on open source software and common metadata standards.
Blog topic: Digital medieval manuscripts
While sheltering in place, the Rare Books Division of Special Collections has been working with colleagues around the country to produce content related to our collections or using technologies that allow sharing digital images across institutions. Here are three recent webinars from that effort:
... we found ourselves revisiting The Annunciate Virgin. Kathy's love of the piece was contagious, and we began to entertain the thought that maybe, just maybe, we would actually buy a wooden panel painting. -- T. Robert Burke
Eight new digital collections are now available in SearchWorks. These collections take advantage of SearchWorks' ability to provide users with rich discovery and access capabilities for finding and working with digital collection content.
Abstract: Primarily fragments, these specimens were acquired to demonstrate the development of writing in the western world. A variety of scripts are represented, from Carolingian minuscule to the humanistic hands and the "cancelleresca."
Collection contact: Benjamin Albritton
In January, Stanford launched Digging Deeper: Making Manuscripts, an online learning experience devoted to the technologies involved in creating and interpreting medieval manuscripts. We're off to a roaring start with thousands of enrolled participants across more than 90 countries (and it's not too late to sign up!). The creation of the course has been a truly collaborative experience: Stanford University faculty and library staff have worked closely with counterparts at Cambridge University, Stanford Academic Technology Specialists, graduate students, and a team from Stanford's Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning to produce a suite of learning materials that have become much richer than any of us envisaged at the beginning of the process in 2013!
As the CLIR postdoctoral fellow in Data Curation for Medieval Studies at Stanford I work primarily with data about large collections of digitized manuscripts and fragments. For example, I have helped to make our teaching collections more easily discoverable in Searchworks. I've also been bringing together partner institutions' descriptive metadata to feed a specialized manuscript search environment.
In practice, I write code to transform batches of 70, 300, 500, or 1000+ manuscripts at a time: I've gotten very comfortable thinking of medieval manuscripts in the tens, hundreds, and even thousands. But the truth is that these large batches of digital-medieval manuscripts I curate are built of unique, single objects. Single objects that, just like the physical objects they grow from, are made by individual people, in particular environments, under specific institutional, financial, and social pressures.
In order to better understand the process that leads to the creation of a digital-medieval book, I recently followed the digitization of a fifteenth-century book of hours, Stanford University Libraries, M0379, from the request for digitization, through the slow hard work of taking the images and hours of post-production labor, to its arrival in Stanford Digital Repository (SDR).
Digital Production Group takes great pride and pleasure in our role supporting the Library's many beautiful and informative exhibitions. The current exhibition is just that, displaying an array of startlingly colorful and detailed medieval manuscripts from the University's collection.
Please read more below, cross-posted from Special Collections. See also the recent article in the Stanford University News, Medieval exhibition spotlights Stanford Libraries' manuscript collection.
Scripting the Sacred: Medieval Latin Manuscripts
Scripting the Sacred, part one of a two-part exhibition of Western European manuscripts and fragments, showcases the medieval experience of reading. The exhibition will open Monday, September 17, in the Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda of Green Library, and continue through January 6, 2013.
Studying these texts involved not only the absorption of knowledge, but also practices of interpretation, identification, and devotion. By focusing on the exercise of reading, this exhibition explores "scripting" in diverse forms: scribal activity, scripted performances, and inscribed divine things (res divinae).
Throughout the Middle Ages, the Bible remained the paradigmatic text for reading and studying. The exhibited biblical items highlight different preferences pertaining to legibility. Indeed, scribes designed manuscripts to guide, assist, and sometimes challenge readers, as medieval versions of biblical commentary and patristic works exemplify. The liturgical genres on display contain written and visual markers that instruct readers in the proper performance of the Mass, music, and specific feast days. The text portion of the liturgy helped stage the clergy's ceremonial duties. Liturgical fragments with musical notation assisted ritual actors in the memorization of stylized speech. Both components show how customized manuscripts promoted reading aloud. Miniature prayer books and books of hours demonstrate a late medieval trend toward privatized and personalized lay devotion.