About DS

Digital Scriptorium (DS) is a consortium of North American libraries and museums committed to providing cross-institutional digital access to their collections of pre-modern manuscripts and dedicated to enhancing access and appreciation of historically significant but often understudied manuscript materials.

To fulfill our mission, DS commits to

  • Building and maintaining an openly accessible, digital union catalog for global premodern manuscripts in North American collections based on linked open data technologies and practices 
  • Promoting best practices for manuscript description, discovery, and access in the digital age  
  • Facilitating research that provides answers, provokes questions, and invites collaboration; 
  • Creating a community of scholars, librarians, curators, and other citizen-scholars for the purpose of sharing the scholarship and expertise of the collections, the academy, and cultural heritage communities 
  • Supporting open access to works in the public domain 
  • Supporting and facilitating the digitization of member institutions’ collections

The DS Catalog

The DS Catalog is an online data repository, a semantic portal, and knowledge base allowing users to explore and query heterogeneous data contained in manuscript records from multiple sources in a single interface powered by linked open data (LOD). The DS Catalog bridges the gap between researchers and resources through a network of member institutions with common interests and shared user communities. As an organization with national representation, DS serves the interests of a diverse community of scholars, teachers, students, hobbyists, booksellers, and collectors—anyone with an interest in premodern manuscripts.

The Catalog transforms member institutions’ structured metadata into LOD and enriches it with semantic connections to external authorities and Wikidata, the world’s largest, freely accessible knowledge graph. DS Catalog entries also link out to member institution’s websites and digital repositories, where users can discover more detailed information about and often images of the manuscripts held in their respective home collections.

Funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the current DS Catalog was developed and implemented by the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies in the University of Pennsylvania Libraries between August 2019 and January 2023 in consultation with the DS members and stakeholders. Read more about the DS 2.0 project here.

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