For the latest event in an ongoing series co-sponsored with Stanford Text Technologies, the Libraries were delighted to host Cheryl jacobsen (University of Iowa, Center for the Book) on Oct. 14, 2021 for an online seminar where she presented her work copying the Old English poem, Beowulf, in a hand and layout matched to that of the original scribe, to produce a commission for a private collector.
Blog topic: Rare books
In 1987, Stanford Libraries acquired a major collection of materials by, and about, Dante Alighieri. Among these materials were nine 15th-century editions of his Comedia (more familiarly, the Divine Comedy) - editions which are constant highlights in the teaching and learning programs in Special Collections and, because of the familiarity of the text to many students and visitors, in regular use by researchers.
John Mustain (left) and Peter Whidden (right) show off a treasure from the Rare Books Collection
“Peter’s work is exceptional”
-- Memo from Linda Long in 1994
Visitors to the basement of Green Library could easily overlook a series of small, blue arrows on the floor. They once directed colleagues toward a service elevator during a major move of materials from Green Library to the Stanford Auxiliary Library. They are the subtle reminders of the often unseen work that happens in an institution like ours: the thinking, logistics, measuring, planning, and communication that keeps things humming along smoothly and of which patrons and colleagues might not even be aware. While our colleague, Peter Holt Whidden, Rare Book Specialist in Special Collections, was not responsible for those particular arrows, he has left many similar signposts throughout the library and Special Collections when he retires on Aug. 31, 2021 after 31 years of service to Stanford Libraries.
Stanford Libraries is embarking on an exciting collaboration with the National Central Library of Taiwan (NCL) to digitize a selection of Chinese rare books in the holdings of the East Asia Library and the Bowes Art & Architecture Library. The scanned titles will be added to the NCL’s Rare Books and Special Collections online database, a significant research resource open to the world for the study of Chinese history and culture.
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.