Digital Manuscripts Program Manager, Digital Library Systems and Services
Community and Communications Officer
International Image Interoperability Framework
University of Toronto
Director, Information Technology, Libraries
University of Toronto
Making Use of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts (Albritton, Rabun)
A growing number of manuscripts from institutions around the world are available for use and re-use by scholars through the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF). The activities associated with this material, from simple transcription to machine-generation of thousands of annotations, pose a growing challenge for data management and curation. Our presentation will focus on several key areas in this emerging space: a use-case demonstrating the potential for creation and curation of machine-generated scholarly annotations emerging from the Stanford Global Currents project tools for navigation and discovery of massively annotated corpora; and a model for the virtuous cycle that can occur when new information, created by subject specialists, can easily be used to augment existing digital resources within the rich landscape made possible by IIIF.
Digital Tools for Manuscript Study (Gillespie, Meikle)
We will report on a two-year joint project between the University of Toronto’s Library Information Technology unit and Centre for Medieval Studies. Our project, generously funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, aims to build open, modular tool environments to support image-based scholarly research. Our specific use case is the study of medieval manuscripts; our scholarly objective is to answer some important research questions by building interoperable collections of digitized medieval books, witnesses to the Middle English poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and medieval manuscripts collected by the Renaissance antiquary John Stow. In our technical work, we are integrating Omeka, an open-source platform for digital exhibits; Mirador, a IIIF-compliant image viewer developed at Stanford; and VisColl, a tool developed by the University of Pennsylvania’s Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies for the visualization of book structure. These tools were selected for their significant traction among digital humanists and manuscript researchers. A major goal of our work is to strengthen modular, standards-based, highly usable scholarly work environments; our specific objective is to situate both Omeka and VisColl alongside Mirador within the IIIF. IIIF is an international specification for consistent digital image delivery and annotation across multiple digital collections, which has been supported by top-ranked research universities such as Stanford and Harvard; major archives including the British and Vatican Libraries; and established non-profits such as the Internet Archive and ArtStor. By making these existing and easy-to-use tools IIIF compliant, we hope to grow IIIF’s capacity to share cultural heritage images and expose them to new kinds of inquiry. Our work on this project is guided by our team’s broader digital humanities research and development practices. 1) Our work is collaborative: it involves daily interaction and intellectual exchange between a diverse group of scholars, librarians, and developers. 2) Our data is resilient: it must remain open, accessible, easily portable, platform-independent, and based on international standards. 3) We build where we find community: in order to ensure that what we build is robust, sustainable, and above all usable, we build, extend, and integrate open-source tools, in close consultation with those who will use them.