From Ink to Pixels: Digitizing Manuscripts at St John’s College

Library Exhibition
24 April – 22 June 2023


St John’s College Library has over 400 manuscripts, which are the focus of an ongoing digitization project begun in 2020.

The aim of this project is to support global research by making catalogue records of our manuscripts accessible online in central databases (the metadata phase) and by making our most significant books digitally accessible on Digital Bodleian (the imaging phase).

The first and most labour-intensive part of the metadata phase has already generated more detailed research enquiries and increased the interest in added texts and marginalia. This is a good sign that our work fulfils its aim.

We hope to increase this digital support for academic studies and research with the imaging phase to be carried out over the next eighteen months. We plan to digitize up to 90 volumes by October 2024 and make them freely available.

From Ink to Pixels is an exhibition showcasing a select few manuscripts from St John’s College which have been shortlisted for imaging. All four of the manuscript collections are represented across the three cases —  western medieval, western post-1500, Greek, and Oriental.*

This online exhibition has two main sections: the first outlines the digitization project and contextualizes the exhibition. The second takes you through the three cases, item by item. Each case is themed around one of the selection criteria for the imaging shortlist: significant textual witnesses, provenance, and decoration. Preceding the discussion of each case is a short background discussion of a relevant topic. 

*There are ongoing discussions about renaming this collection in light of the problematic nature of the term ‘Oriental’.

Petra Hofmann, Sian Witherden, and Sophie Bacchus-Waterman

MS 164, fol. 1r

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