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Digitization and Online Presentation

Digitization and the Graz Conservation Copy Stand

Many of the Lorsch manuscripts were digitized by the holding institutions themselves. The other manuscripts of institutions that did not have the necessary equipment were photographed by, or in, Heidelberg’s Digitization Centre. The Lorsch manuscripts were digitized in Heidelberg on the Graz Conservation Copy Stand. The Conservation Copy Stand is equipped with a high resolution digital camera (Canon EOS 5D Mark II) and was developed especially for the digitization of valuable manuscripts in Graz by Manfred Meyer, a qualified engineer and conservator. Its specialized construction enables a contactless and direct digitization of the precious codices and a careful handling of the book. The camera is always positioned at a right angle to the manuscript so that distortions can be minimized. The manuscript is held in the right position through a laser beam placed on the opened page, which again is fixed to a low pressure bar through slight suction. The Graz Conservation Copy Stand was employed both in the Digitization Centre of Heidelberg University Library and the digitization centre on the premises of the Vatican Library in Rome, set up especially for this project.

Heidelberg Digitization Centre in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana

133 manuscripts, which once formed part of the medieval monastic library Lorsch, are today part of the valuable and large collection of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. 130 of these manuscripts were brought to Rome in 1622/23 as part of Heidelberg’s Bibliotheca Palatina. For its digitization project “Bibliotheca Laureshamensis – digital” Heidelberg University Library was permitted to digitize the Lorsch manuscripts on the premises of the Vatican Library in Rome. Thus, in November 2010 a digitization centre was set up in Rome in cooperation with the Vatican Library for the digitization of the manuscripts. The digitization of the entire Lorsch manuscripts in Rome was completed within eight months by a team of six.

In Rome the digitization was performed on a Graz Conservation Copy Stand, which was purchased especially for this project. For small sized manuscripts or for fragments, a more compact version was employed, the so called “Traveller”, which also is equipped with a professional digital camera. The high quality digital images were taken in a climatically adjusted and darkened room (ca. 20 °C).

The digitization of an entire manuscript comprises: (1) binding, (2) spine, (3) top edge, tail edge and fore edge, (4) front and back pastedown, (5) images of recto and verso pages as well as (6) one image of a colour chart and a scale.

After capturing all digital images of the manuscript, they were compared with the original manuscript and tested for completeness and quality. Missing reproductions or images that were lacking in quality were immediately digitized again and included, in order to secure a reproduction as true as possible to the original.

Further information on Heidelberg's Digitization Centre in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (in German)

Online Presentation and Long-Term Archiving

After digitization all images were converted into TIF-format, the technical standard for long-term archiving. The final touches were made to the digital reproductions via a photo editing programme, so that colour, brightness, contrast and sharpness resemble the original as closely as possible.

For further steps Heidelberg University Library employed its own developed programme DWork – Heidelberg Digitization Workflow. DWork enables an automatic processing of several single steps beginning from the production of metadata up until the creation of a web presentation for the work in question. The programme enables a smooth and clearly arranged workflow. Through the so called “electronic binding” DWork creates the model for the presentation of a virtual book, which can be leafed through in the virtual monastic library.

The digital images were captured with a resolution of at least 300 dpi. In the internet they are presented in JPG-format, whereby each digital image received a citable and a persistent URL (PURL). Thereby the University Library Heidelberg guarantees a long-term archiving of the presentation.

Further information on digitization processes at Heidelberg University Library (in German)

Virtual Monastic Library - Web Presentation

Up till then very few images of Lorsch manuscripts existed, therefore the accessibility as well as the possibility to examine the manuscripts in the form of digital images was and remains a considerable improvement. In order to restore the unity of the former monastic library all images were presented in a unified presentation. As the website unites digital reproductions from different digitization centres all over the world slight differences in the presentation were unavoidable. The online presentation of all manuscripts is equipped with the nowadays commonplace and comfortable navigation possibilities: zoom-functions, different zoom levels, index, preview, the possibility to leaf through the manuscript, and direct entry as well as the option to download the entire manuscript as a PDF-document.

Universitätsbibliothek HeidelbergUnesco Welterbestätte Kloster LorschBundesland Hessen