Description of the Process
The Free Library's Digital Collections Database is the core component of these web pages and all of our digital collections pages. However, this project is the result of the intersection of three distinct databases: the FLP Digital Collections database, the FLP Library catalog, and the Digital Scriptorium's database. Managing the creation and flow of content for and between these data repositories was crucial to the success of this effort. This project is also the first opportunity we have had to create record-level hyperlinks between our Medieval Manuscript web pages and our catalog.
Two central objectives of this portion of the project were to ensure that complete and correct data was:
- Created for each image chosen to be digitized
- Entered into each database so that all three contained populated, appropriate data fields for all of the functions that we and our partner required
Project staff medievalists and FLP catalogers worked together to create a Medieval Manuscripts Project Controlled Vocabulary System. Medievalists were guided by their own expert knowledge, the expertise of FLP Rare Books librarians, consultations with their colleagues in the field, original research, Iconclass subject headings, and FLP and DS Data Dictionaries to complete a worksheet for each single image that was digitized. The worksheet was shared with FLP staff catalogers.
Populating and Associating the Databases
Project staff then moved ahead to enter a record for each single image into a specially-configured hybrid copy of our FLP Digital Collections and the Digital Scriptorium's (DS) databases. Meanwhile, working from the Medievalists' worksheets and guided by the Medieval Manuscripts Project Controlled Vocabulary System, the FLP catalogers created folio-level MARC records in our Library catalog.
Catalog records will include links to these Digital Collections pages for more detailed information and access to the images. These Digital Collections pages reflect this functionality by displaying a link to the folio-level record in the catalog if the item has been entered into the catalog.
In order to build this site and include these records in our existing digital images collection, the data required for the FLP Digital Collections Database was then transferred to that container via a ColdFusion script. A field was added to the FLP container that allows users to link directly from the individual images to the folio-level MARC record for that image in the Library catalog.
The original configuration of the DS database was then restored from a copy of the hybrid database, and the batch of records in that container was sent to the DS to be included in their "union" catalog of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts.
Download a PDF flowchart of this process combined with the imaging process.
Testing and Initial Deployment of the Web Pages
In order to test the many new, interrelated components of this project and bring the collection live before all images were scanned and all manuscripts were described, an initial group of 101 items was identified as a core group that was representative of the types of objects in the collection. This initial set contains 15 codices, 85 fragments, and 1 scroll. In total, 483 individual images are now fully viewable, with over 3,000 to be added in the next 13 months.