For DS Member Contributors

DS Catalog Contribution Guidelines for Members

Contributing your institution’s existing structured metadata relating to your manuscript objects to Digital Scriptorium (DS) is simple. It requires only that you have identified manuscript objects to contribute and that you have some structured metadata about each object in a shareable format. Typical formats include, but are not limited to, MARC, TEI, METS, or CSV. The contribution process is relatively straightforward for institutions with existing structured data and does not require any mapping or transformation of current data. When you have data ready to contribute or need to update existing DS records, please contact DS Catalog Project and and Data Manager L.P. Coladangelo at [email protected] to get the process started.

If your institution does not have staff resources or expertise to generate original catalog records, DS will work with you to collect your data and will help you to create structured data for your institution and for inclusion in the DS Catalog. DS offers cataloging assistance to member institutions with undescribed or underdescribed manuscripts using the DS Data Model as a metadata schema through use of the DS Catalog Member Data Spreadsheet (DS-CSV), guided by accompanying documentation in the form of a DS Catalog Metadata Application Profile (DS MAP) to assist in creating “DS-friendly” records. If your institution is interested in our Member Cataloging Project, please contact DS at [email protected].

What types of manuscripts are included in the DS Catalog

As an organization, DS promotes awareness of and facilitates research related to the material objects of scribal cultures and provides access to hand-written materials produced by these cultures and textual communities. The DS Catalog therefore includes materials focusing on these cultures from the era of the codex. Though the codex produced on parchment or paper is most typical of this era, DS recognizes that books come in a variety of formats (including roll, accordion-style, and palm leaf, among others), and can be made of a variety of materials to support inscribed texts and images (including silk, birchbark, and wax, among others).

Chronological limits are also helpful when deciding to include a manuscript object in the DS catalog. However, these limits may vary depending upon the particular scribal culture in which a manuscript was produced. To limit scope, DS does not include manuscript objects produced before the Common Era (CE). On the opposite end, dates can be more variable depending on the culture. For European manuscripts, the cut-off has traditionally been 1600 CE, when it is commonly accepted that the general tendency toward manuscript publication was replaced by print publication. Other scribal cultures, including, but not limited to, Islamicate, Jewish, Ethiopian, and Buddhist traditions, may extend well into the 19th century. The general rule of thumb in determining the chronological limit should be whether a manuscript book follows a scribal tradition of production that extends back into the premodern era.

DS also includes fragments. Fragments may consist of several leaves taken from a bound volume, or a single leaf, or a cutting from a single leaf. DS also includes manuscript fragments found in bound manuscript or print volumes that have been used as binding waste. Manuscript components in hybrid print/manuscript volumes, fragmentary or otherwise, should also be considered for inclusion.  Members wishing to contribute these item types should consult with DS about best practices for recording these items.

Within these broad parameters of format, material, culture, and chronology, DS member institutions may determine what collection items they will contribute to the DS Catalog. If an object falls outside of these parameters but a strong case could be made for inclusion, member institutions may contact DS at [email protected] to discuss such a case or any other questions or concerns about eligible items.

What types of manuscripts are not included in the DS Catalog

Generally, manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts produced out of the traditional chronological boundaries considered “medieval” or “premodern” and/or that are not considered “books” serving as manifestations of textual works expressed in verbal, glyphic, or image forms should not be included. Examples are:

  • Manuscripts produced Before the Common Era (BCE)
  • Papyrus fragments
  • Epigraphic writing on stone, clay, metal or other surfaces
  • Archival material, such as notarial registers, bound legal archives, and institutional records, unless these items are preserved as paleographical or codicological specimens (e.g. an 11th-century charter)
  • Literary manuscripts intended by authors or copyists to serve as drafts for print publication, for personal distribution, or for use in musical or theatrical performance
  • Personal notes, including diaries, account books, and handwritten ephemera

DS is open to considering exceptions to these guidelines in consultation with member institutions. On receiving member data for entry, DS will review the proposed data and notify the institution if there are questions or concerns relating to the proposed manuscript list.

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