The Penn Libraries is proud to announce their role as online host and one of the leaders in a partnership that will create the country’s largest regional collection of digitized medieval manuscripts. This role is made possible through a grant of almost $500,000 awarded to Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis, a new project organized by the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) and funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The project, involving a total of 15 partner institutions, and led by the Penn Libraries, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and Lehigh University, will complete the digitization and online presentation of virtually all of the region’s medieval manuscripts – a total of almost 160,000 pages from more than 400 individual volumes. PACSCL first showcased the variety and depth of Philadelphia collections in a 2001 exhibition, “Leaves of Gold: Manuscript Illumination from Philadelphia Collections,” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The exhibition and its associated catalogue drew heavily upon the manuscripts to be digitized in this project and sparked a surge in scholarly interest in the Philadelphia collections.
The manuscripts in this project range from simple but functional texts intended for the students of science, philosophy, and religion to jewel-like works of art in the collections of such institutions as Bryn Mawr College, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum.
Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis’ images and metadata will be hosted by the Penn Libraries’ manuscript portal, OPenn (http://openn.library.upenn.edu). The images will be released into the public domain at high resolution and available for download (by the page, manuscript, or collection) with descriptive metadata. “Penn Libraries is thrilled to be collaborating with the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries to create data on the Middle Ages for the twenty-first century from American collections,” remarked William Noel, Director of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Penn Libraries.
The project participants include the following area libraries and museums: Bryn Mawr College, Chemical Heritage Foundation, College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Franklin and Marshall College, Free Library of Philadelphia (lead contributor and co-principal investigator) Haverford College, Lehigh University (principal investigator, fiscal agent, and dark archive), Library Company of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rosenbach Museum and Library, Swarthmore College, Temple University, University of Delaware, University of Pennsylvania (OPenn host and lead imaging/metadata center), Villanova University.