In case you missed it: earlier this summer, the video team at the University of Pennsylvania followed a manuscript from the Free Library of Philadelphia through the imaging process at the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text & Image at the Penn Libraries. The Free Library holds the majority of the manuscripts being digitized by the project, and imaging for these is largely complete. Over the next several months, these images will be uploaded to OPenn and freely available to anyone.
The Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis catalogers have enriched the project’s social media feeds since they began their work, tweeting the finds that surprise, delight, and excite them using the hashtag #bibliophilly. One of the most prolific of these has been Diane Biunno (@dianebiunno on Twitter). Based at the Free Library of Philadelphia, she has shared manuscripts large and small, glorious miniatures, charming marginalia, bindings, stains, repairs, and other examples of the weird and wonderful ways in which these manuscripts were created and used. She found a lot of images of skulls in those manuscripts, prompting a light-hearted #skullsmackdown competition with fellow cataloger Erin Connelly. (Diane won.)
Alas, we have just lost Diane to another assignment; she has moved to the Penn Museum to work on their Tikal project. We will miss her dreadfully, but are hoping that she will share new wonders from this iconic Maya site.
Here is Diane’s farewell message to the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project.
We’ve reached a major project milestone, with one hundred Western European medieval and early modern manuscripts now online in our Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis curated collection. The images and metadata are hosted by the Penn Libraries’ OPenn repository.
This represents a little less than 25% of the 450-plus manuscripts that will eventually be digitized and placed on OPenn. Currently more than half of the manuscripts have been imaged, with cataloging undergoing refinement and quality control.
All the BiblioPhilly images are free for the downloading in glorious high resolution or leisurely leafing through with a page-turning interface on the Library of Congress’ ViewShare site.
The actual one-hundredth manuscript, Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E 257, is remarkable in a number of ways. Let us count them:
First, it’s written in Middle Dutch — unlike many of the Latin or French Books of Hours collected in Philadelphia-area institutions.
But wait — there’s lots more! It was displayed as part of PACSCL’s 2001 exhibition, “Leaves of Gold.” Curator and catalog editor James R. Tanis  explained the many other ways this manuscript is special:
“Uncommon in several respects, this Dutch Book of Hours begins with the Hours of the Trinity, which, like the more common Hours of the Eternal Wisdom, are almost exclusively found in manuscripts from the northern Netherlands. Three different mediums meet in this unusual opening. On the right is a traditional, fully illuminated opening initial in the so-called aubergine style, with accompanying border decoration. In the upper right corner of this page a colorful bird looks down on a monkey riding a dog in the lower margin. On the facing page a very simply drawn and colored GnadenstuhlI (Throne-of-Grace) Trinity is surrounded by a metal-cut border. The popular monkey appears in the lower border, with a deer to the left of the miniature and a bird to the right.
BiblioPhilly is halfway to completion, imaging-wise, with more than 220 medieval manuscripts from PACSCL member collections currently digitized. Of those manuscripts, approximately 50 have been uploaded to the BiblioPhilly collection at OPenn, with more coming shortly.
The remainder are receiving additional cataloging and quality control and will go online in the coming months. Work continues on a custom interface that will allow faceted searching and user-friendly view options.
In the meantime, co-PI Dot Porter has created a temporary interface here:
This replaces the temporary interface built using the Library of Congress’s ViewShare utility, which will be retired in March.
And be sure to take a look at the page-turner interface for these manuscripts. BiblioPhilly’s personal favorite, for sheer eye-appeal, is the page-turner for this Book of Hours from the collections of the Free Library of Philadelphia (Lewis MS 126), pictured above: