Digitized Collections of Medieval Manuscripts
A Workshop on Uses and Interoperation
This invitational two-day workshop, planned, organized and managed by the Stanford University Libraries and supported by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, was held in Paris (France) on 14-15 January 2010.
Summary: The workshop was intended to examine selected uses of digitized medieval manuscript collections, both for research and teaching, with a view to defining certain parameters for future work. It examined real uses of Parker on the Web -- and sister projects like CESG (Codices Electronici Sangallenses), e-Codices, and Roman de la Rose: Digital Surrogates of Medieval Manuscripts -- to advance learning in relevant core disciplines and to teach research methods in auxiliary sciences like paleography and codicology, paying special attention to approaches that rely heavily or essentially on the availability and use of data in digital form.
The organizers were especially interested in the development or exercise of tools and architectures that:
- facilitate access to materials in multiple digital collections
- link sites and collections via common or cross-walked metadata schema
- link text and image at the feature or information content level
- link primary materials and secondary scholarship, and
- help establish best practices and/or specifications for new and future projects.
Key Issues and Implications: Key workshop issues included:
- new uses of manuscripts enabled by digitization enable scholars to ask questions that did not occur, or could not be answered, in a pre-digital environment
- the existence of multiple digital resources resulting from multiple projects exposes benefits that derive from cross-project discovery and navigation
- more complex ‘interoperability’ involves links between the tools used to flag features in manuscripts and the “original” page images.
Furthermore, the uses of digitized collections have obvious implications for the way individual digitization projects are designed henceforth. While some of these implications bear on the protocols for digital capture, uses seem likely to have more powerful effects in the areas of application functionality and descriptive metadata schema. They may also impact the way the community approaches interoperability.
Results: The following conclusions emerged from the presentations and associated discussions:
- real-world scholarship and research needs should drive tool and technology development
- a community of digital content providers, tools designers, and scholars engaged in digital humanities research can facilitate this process (silos and unilateral development are hindrances)
- next steps need to address the technical interoperation of digital manuscript collections and tools to address currently known scholarly needs
Note: We will be adding more data to this site in the near future, including summaries of the substantive discussions that followed panel presentations. Check back for updates.