The digital transformation of the handwritten heritage continues: Millions in support of continuing the DFG project "Manuscript portal"

Since 2019, the State Libraries of Berlin and Munich, the University Library of Leipzig and the Herzog August Library Wolfenbüttel have been working on setting up the Germany-wide web portal, which pools information on manuscripts from the Middle Ages and from modern times forming part of German collections, in a project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The DFG has now approved further funding in the amount of almost five million Euros for a three-year continuation of this innovative endeavour, which is custom-fitted to the demands of researchers and collectors.

Analogue and digital: Indexing work with the manuscript portal | © University Library of Leipzig

Analogue and digital: Indexing work with the manuscript portal | © University Library of Leipzig

The area of teaching and research Information Behavior of the Humboldt University in Berlin is a new member of the project group, whose involvement will ensure optimal usability of the newly developed portal.

The manuscript portal provides access to the academic cataloguing data and digital reproductions of the unique handwritten cultural heritage of Germany by means of state-of-the-art search engines and presentation technology. Researchers and the interested public from all over the world can view the precious manuscripts created in bygone epochs in the open access format and can research the current state of knowledge with respect to these unique book objects. Offering research data on over 70,000 manuscripts, the portal is the leading provider in an international comparison.

In the summer of 2022, the online services will go live with the basic functions of data retention and input, data improvement and online presentation, thus marking the conclusion of the 1st project phase. The portal is already online in the form of a test version. In the 2nd funding phase now approved, the innovative potential of the system can unfold. Thus, interactive elements will put experts in a position to add to and cooperatively edit the digital knowledge about the historical manuscripts. Consistently using linked-up authority data does not only create new search perspectives on the data material, but also use scenarios for Digital Humanities. The comprehensive integration of information from other portals of the German language area and consultation and hosting services for manuscript collections strengthen the role of the manuscript portal as an important component of the digital research infrastructure.

The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek with its internationally renowned manuscript collection is the largest content provider of the manuscript portal, contributing over 49,000 relevant objects. The library makes available more than 15,000 scholarly descriptions and over 10,000 full digital copies of its own holdings. During the 2nd project phase the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek plays a part in project management, in providing support to the contributing Bavarian libraries and archives, and in the field of editorship, supporting the further improvement of data and the conversion of numerous information sources only available in printed form so far.

Dr. Klaus Ceynowa, Director General of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek: "In the course of the last three years, the participating institutions have developed the portal into an excellent online service. We highly appreciate the renewed generous funding by the German Research Foundation and the continuation of this project, which is of relevance to the digital research data infrastructure."

Press release for download  (PDF, 123 KB)

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