About DS

New York, Columbia University, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 040A, f. 1
Blue-vested canons of S. Giorgio in Alga kneeling before Sts. Peter and Paul.

Digital Scriptorium (DS) is a growing consortium of American institutions with collections of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. As an online image repository, the DS website allows users to verify descriptive metadata with visual evidence of the manuscripts described. As an online union catalog, DS unites scattered rare materials, including dispersed manuscript leaves from dismembered books, into a national digital platform for cross-collection teaching and scholarly research.  DS records not only include recognized touchstone materials, such as manuscripts signed and dated by their scribes or illuminators, but also unidentified manuscripts that are traditionally unlikely candidates for exhibition or reproduction in print.

Thus the DS website enables free and open access of historically significant but often understudied manuscript materials. It fosters public viewing of rare materials otherwise available only by restricted access. It also supports searches across multi-institutional holdings through a shared metadata schema and faceted search filters. Because our records include persistent URLs, DS encourages direct citation to these and enables a reciprocal flow of information among scholars and collection managers. Many DS records also link out to the websites and digital repositories of our member institutions, where users can discover further information and images about the manuscripts in their respective home collections.

Collectively DS data bridges the gap between researchers and resources through a network of member institutions with common interests and shared user communities. As an organization with national representation, DS serves the interests of a heterogenous community of scholars, teachers, students, hobbyists, booksellers, and collectors—anyone with an interest in pre-modern manuscripts. DS welcomes new members and encourages institutions both large and small to join our mission to enhance accessibility to rare manuscript materials. For further information about membership please see Finances. For more information about DS see also our article in Wikipedia.