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e-codices newsletter

The e-codices newsletter provides information about the latest updates, highlights, and activities of our project and appears about 4-5 times per year.
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The e-codices team

In this issue
  1. New principal sponsor for „Fragmentarium“
  2. Call for collaboration
  3. Manuscripts in the public domain
  4. e-codices on swissbib and KVK
June 2015

Issue N° 20
New principal sponsor for „Fragmentarium“
For the next three years, „Fragmentarium“ will be generously supported by the Zeno Karl Schindler Foundation. This new and so far most ambitious project of e-codices will now have three principal sponsors: the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the above-named foundation from Geneva, which, over the next three years, will support several „Fellowships e-codices / Zeno Karl Schindler.“ Calls for the first fellowships will be posted this fall.
swissbib csg-0730_47

St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 730, p. 47 – Edictum Rothari (Veterum Fragmentorum Tomus III)


Solothurn, Zentralbibliothek, Cod. S II 43, f. 36v – "Historienbibel" from the workshop of Diebold Lauber ('vom Staal-Story Bible')

Call for collaboration
Our third “call for collaboration”, published jointly by e-codices and our partner libraries in the beginning of this year, again attracted a great deal of international interest. After the great response to the first call in June 2009 with 97 applications from 33 scholars, and the overwhelming success of the second call in 2013 with 137 applications from 55 scholars, we have this time received 91 applications from 35 scholars.
The scholars again come from a variety of countries: Germany (9), Switzerland (6), United Kingdom (6), the USA (5), Italy (4), France (2), Sweden (1), Armenia (1) und Hungary (1); almost all disciplines of medieval studies are represented.
Proposals were for manuscripts from 18 libraries, an especially large number from the Burgerbibliothek Bern (23), the Zentralbibliothek Zürich (12), the Universitätsbibliothek Basel (8), but also from three new collections that have not yet been represented on e-codices. Also suggested were six manuscripts from the Abbey Library of St. Gall, where more than half of the collection of medieval manuscripts has already been made digitally accessible. Such continuing demand clearly shows that, despite the great number of manuscripts that have already been digitized, the scholarly interest has by far not been satisfied.
At the same time it should be pointed out that the cooperation of scholars and librarians has resulted in a large scientific input: over the last several years, more than 300 new in-depth scholarly descriptions have been prepared.
Manuscripts in the public domain
From the beginning, e-codices has been committed to open access. This has at times been a slow, continuous process, but it has definitely been successful. An important step in this direction was the introduction of Creative Commons licenses for images and metadata in 2012. According to this regulation (CC-by-nc), images can be used for non-commercial purposes if a source is indicated. Most metadata, including descriptions, require only an attribution (CC-by). These restrictions have proved to be an obstacle for modern interfaces, for new interoperability standards, for meta-catalogs that share not only metadata but also images, and finally for the collaboration with projects of image and text recognition. Since January 2015 the Stadtbibliothek Schaffhausen and the Zentralbibliothek Solothurn now release their images freely (Public Domain). We asked Verena Bider, Director of the Zentralbibliothek, about the significance of this deregulation: "We have made our images freely available on e-codices because we support their widespread use. In this way, we incur no overhead from the transmission of data or the collection of fees. Professional users provide source information, and non-professional users are negligible in this respect. Such a release therefore is a marketing tool requiring little effort and offering potentially great impact."
swissbib kvk
e-codices on swissbib and KVK
Two more library portals have harvested metadata via our OAI-interface. swissbib is a library portral for all of Switzerland; it was supported by e-lib - electronic library from 2008-2012 and has since been continuously developed further. Via this Swiss library portal, data from e-codices can also be accessed on the Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog (KVK). The distribution of metadata by means of superordinate meta-portals is very important to e-codices. Currently our data are shared with 11 manuscript and library portals, with quite varied success; at this time, unfortunately, there are many missed opportunities. This can be seen not only in the lack of actualization of harvested data (several portals have harvested the data only once, so that some of them still display the 2012 state), but also in the sometimes disappointing volume of visitors. The only truly successful exception is Gallica, which by now has become a top-referral for e-codices; lagging far behind until now have been all other manuscript meta-portals, among them Europeana, The European Library, Manuscripta Mediaevalia and Manuscriptorium.
Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland
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