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“My vision then of a future manuscript catalogue would be of something that links together a wide range of resources … anchored by the record of the physical manuscript itself …”

Detail of a miniature of Katherine of Alexandria, seated at a table and reading a book, with the attributes of her martyrdom (spiked wheel and sword) nearby, at the beginning of her suffrage.  British Library Yates Thompson 3 f. 281v  (public domain)

Detail of a miniature of Katherine of Alexandria, seated at a table and reading a book, with the attributes of her martyrdom (spiked wheel and sword) nearby, at the beginning of her suffrage. British Library Yates Thompson 3 f. 281v (public domain!)

This vision is outlined by Andrew Prescott, Professor of Digital Humanities at Kings College London, in The Function, Structure and Future of Catalogues, now available on Professor Prescott’s blog Digital Riffs.  The piece is an interesting and invaluable overview of the past, present and future of cataloguing – especially the cataloguing of manuscripts. It was the keynote lecture at a conference for the launch of Manuscripts Online, an exciting, JISC-funded project which aims to offer full-text searching of manuscripts and other historic documents on websites, using “automated entity recognition”.

And talking of manuscripts, I don’t think I have yet welcomed the wonderful initiative by the British Library to make illuminated manuscript images available under a Public Domain Mark.  Technically these are still in copyright but the Library has taken the very sensible decision to support knowledge by making them available.  I am delighted to see this – it will mean more use and enjoyment from these incredible images and will give other libraries the confidence to do the same with their collections.

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