Using New Technology to Scan a 16th Century Manuscript



This update comes to us from Cat Phan, digital services librarian at the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center and 2016 ARL+DLF Forum Fellow.





The picture above shows 16th-century Italian manuscript, “Annotationi sopra la sferette,” on Sacrobosco’s 13th-century treatise on the sphere, set in place for digitization on the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center’s (UWDCC) new book capture system, the BC100 by Digital Transitions. It rests on a 100° book cradle and the glass platen hovers above. The glass will be lowered and the height and upward tension of the book cradle are adjusted so that the glass platen stops just above or only barely touches the pages. We are one of just four institutions in the world to have this rare book module add-on to the BC100.

The manuscript (MS 83) heads the list of material from the Department of Special Collections to be digitized as part of the UWDCC/Special Collections collaboration with Prof. Martin Foys of the English Department, who directs the DM Project, and Dr. Heather Wacha, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for Medieval Studies based in the iSchool at UW-Madison. The DM Project, as Prof. Foys describes it, is an “online environment for the study and annotation of images and texts through the generation of linked and annotated data.”

It also enjoys much use in an innovative course on the Scientific Revolution, as taught by Prof. Florence Hsia, current chair of the Department of History of Science, and Dr. Robin Rider, Curator of Special Collections. In this undergraduate course, students have a weekly “lab” in Special Collections in which they work closely with early printed books and manuscripts of the period as well as with digitized copies of our own holdings and of rare books elsewhere.

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