Friday, September 21, 2012

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Vienna: T-PEN Abroad

Now that T-PEN has had several months of public use and is functional and fun, we are turning our attention to another sort of building, not of software, but of collaborative relationships.  Although it is possible to upload privately held images under conditions of restricted access, we have always hoped that T-PEN would encourage better use of the many, many images of handwritten materials that libraries and manuscript repositories are making available on the web.  We remain inspired by the sometimes massive releases of digitised manuscripts and documents (one of our current favourites is Europeana Regia).  Seeing those images makes us want to transcribe the texts!  We wonder whether one of the consequences of the proliferating digital resources will be that texts will be liberated from the institutions and codices in which they have been cloistered.  Although the digital libraries allow unprecedented access to the texts, it is still rather awkward for scholars, editors, and creators of digital projects to work with them; we hope, of course, that T-PEN is a satisfying bridge between the images and further research or preparation of editions (remember, one can export from T-PEN in several formats!).

When T-PEN and manuscript repositories collaborate, scholarship can advance in powerful ways.  We can draw upon the profound expertise of the curators, cataloguers, and creators of edifying exhibitions; we can combine that expertise with the analytical, interpretative, and editorial work of academic researchers.

Abigail Firey, T-PEN's Co-PI,  made a little tour to meet with prospective partners, in hopes that we can realise this vision of bringing together digital library resources and those who use them.  With delight, T-PEN found -- over and over again-- wonderful generosity, interest, and energy in the repositories we approached.  Naturally, there are various legal and technical considerations yet to be addressed.  We cannot make definitive statements at this time, and even when the ink does start drying on the agreements, we shall first implement pilot projects of a dozen or so manuscripts to ensure that the data transfers are smoothly implemented.  Nevertheless, we would like to acknowledge the exceptional courtesy shown to our little dinosaur at

We shall continue to build collaborative relationships in the coming months.  If you are involved with digitising a collection, or contemplating digitising one, and are interested in the potential of T-PEN to enhance the utility of the images you will be making public, please do get in touch with us.