June 25, 2019

Bodleian Libraries Digital Collaboration with Herzog August Library Brings Rare German Manuscripts From Medieval Monasteries to Life

From the Bodleian Libraries (U. of Oxford):

The University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries and the German library, Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, have announced a new collaborative digitization project that will open up repositories of medieval manuscripts from German-speaking lands.

The three-year project will ensure that more than 600 western medieval manuscripts from both libraries’ remarkable collections are made freely available online to researchers and the public worldwide through a special online resource.

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The project, funded by The Polonsky Foundation, will have much to tell us about the European Middle Ages and about the history of Germanic monastic traditions. Through coordinated digitization and shared software and cataloguing standards, the project will open up new opportunities for research across the two libraries’ collections.

The digitized collections focus specifically on manuscripts from German-speaking lands that originate from monasteries in the lower Saxony, Bavaria and Baden –Württemberg regions: Medingen, Braunschweig, Hildesheim, Helmstedt, Clus, Würzburg, and Eberbach. The Medingen manuscripts, from a nunnery in the area, are of particular importance and are highly illustrated. Most of the manuscripts held at the Herzog August Bibilothek were collected in the 17th century by Duke August and the Dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg in Wolfenbüttel while the items held in the Bodleian Libraries were brought to England by Archbishop William Laud around the same time and included 46 important Latin manuscripts.

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The project website (now live at https://hab.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/en) will showcase thousands of images of these rare manuscripts as well as providing detailed explanation about the texts, and their unique differences. The website will also provide background on the manuscripts’ origins via an interactive map. Visitors will be able to browse the digitized manuscripts by shelfmark, language, date and place of origin and explore highlights from the digitized collections.

Both libraries will be delivering their images via the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), which will enable side-by-side comparison and analysis, and will allow researchers to take advantage of open-source IIIF-based tools.

The manuscripts digitized through this project been chosen for the strength of the collections in both libraries and their importance for scholarship in their respective fields. The resource itself will be of interest to scholars in: religious studies, German studies, medieval studies and history, amongst others. With approximately 133,000 images from the Bodleian Libraries and 100,000 images from the Herzog August Bibliothek, the digitization effort will also benefit scholars by virtually uniting materials that have been dispersed between the two collections over the centuries. At launch the website already features over 18,000 images of 40 objects (with eight different religious houses represented); more images and content will be added over the three-year project.

Read the Complete Announcement

Direct to Online Resource

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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