Monday 22 February 2010

Parker Library on the Web

ELB writes:

From 2005-9, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, was involved in a project (in collaboration with Stanford University) to digitise their superb collection of medieval manuscripts. The resulting online resource is the 'Parker Library on the Web' site. More than five hundred manuscripts were digitised, ranging from the 'Augustine Gospels' (a sixth-century, Italian Gospel-book, thought to have been brought to England by Augustine of Canterbury), to letters and documents concerning the sixteenth-century Reformation archbishop, Matthew Parker, who bequeathed the collection to Corpus, and after whom the Parker Library is named. A number of members of the ASNC Department, past and present, were involved in this project, particularly Dr Rebecca Rushforth, Dr Denis Casey, and myself, who were employed as Research Associates on the project, and who were particularly involved in the production of the site's metadata, such as the extensive bibliographies of scholarship which were compiled for each manuscript. For us, the project represented an unrivalled opportunity to have firsthand access to the manuscripts, as well as the chance to immerse ourselves in the copious modern scholarship which has been produced on various aspects of provenance, script, contents and decoration of each of the manuscripts.

This was an expensive and ambitious project, and one which is ongoing, in the sense that bibliography, and new information about the manuscripts, will be added to the site as it arises. The cost of maintaining the site is such that most of the site is only available to institutions that subscribe to it. However, the basic manuscript images are available to everyone, and it is hoped that the site will attract interested members of the public, as well as scholars. For those interested in ASNC-related topics, the Parker Library on the Web site offers a multitude of treasures, from the A-text of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (in MS 173) to the Historia Brittonum (in MS 139), from the poetry of John Scotus Eriugena (in MS 223) to the homilies of Wulfstan (in MSS 190, 201, 419, and others). It is to be hoped that this will prove to be an invaluable resource for students and scholars alike.

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