Here are some links to useful initiatives, documents, relating to the mass digitization of manuscript materials:

  • The Memoria project of the National Library of the Czech Republic. This is one of the first (if not actually the first) projects to aim at digitization of whole categories of manuscripts. Up to 14 June 2006, this had digitized 1821 full documents, and created some 91,000 bibliographic records.
  • Codices Electronici Ecclesiae Coloniensis (CEEC). The first project to aim for digitization of an entire substantial manuscript collection. Up to 14 June 2006, this had digitized over 300 full codices, amounting to over 100,000 pages.
  • Codices Electronici Sangallenses (CESG). This follows the model of the Cologne project, here applied to the important St. Gall collection. Up to 14 June 2006, this had digitized 100 full manuscripts.
  • The Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland. This ambitious project aims to apply the St. Gall and Cologne model to achieve the digitization of every medieval manuscript in Switzerland.
  • The Parker on the Web project. This cooperation between Stanford University and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, aims at digitizing all 500 manuscripts in the Parker Library: some one quarter of all extant manuscripts containing Anglo-Saxon.
  • Early Manuscripts at Oxford University. A very early (in digital history terms!) project, conceived in the early 90s and carried out from 1995 to 2000: scanned images direct from over eighty early manuscripts at the University of Oxford.
  • The Elektra project at the Royal Library, Copenhagen. This presents digital facsimiles of some 60 manuscripts in the library's collection. It is not clear whether the images were made by new digital photography, direct from the manuscripts, or by digitization from analogue images. Images of later manuscripts, and also from many Latin and fragmentary manuscripts, are also included on the site.
  • Saganet offers digital images of manuscripts covering the entire range of Icelandic family sagas. "All manuscripts, on vellum and paper, and printed editions and translations of the Sagas as well as relevant critical studies published before 1900 are included and available through the Internet". Indeed, as an old Old Norse scholar, I can tell you: this is a wonderful resource.
  • Irish Script on Screen "The object of ISOS is to create digital images of Irish manuscripts, and to make these images - together with relevant commentary - accessible on a WWW site." The site contains thumbnailas and large jpg images (up to 5 MB). Login is needed to see the larger images, though indeed the smaller images are adequate for many purposes. The site contains full sets of manuscript images of some 150 manuscripts from seven archives, including several famous manuscripts, with catalogue descriptions (some very detailed indeed) and accounts of each library.
  • The Laures Rarebook Database and Virtual Library at Sophia University, Tokyo. This is a quite remarkable collection of materials relating to Japan from 1550 to 1650, focussing on books on Christianity relating to Japan in that period but touching more widely on "the complex history of cultural interaction between Europe and Japan in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as well as the history of Western printing techniques in Japan, [and] the history of Western books printed about Japan in Early Modern Europe". It is worth notice not just for the range of materials (including full sets of images of many rare books, maps, and artifacts) but also for its striking and adroit interface: go to the database, select 'Place Name' from the right-hand drop-down menu, type in 'Kyoto' and press 'Find' and you will see what I mean.

Revised 6 October 2006