The final days of digitization at the Bodleian

spreadsheetThe project officially ends on 30 September, which means that after five years of cataloguing, conservation, photography and digitization, we are very, very nearly done. Here's an update from the Bodleian. As you can see, we have a busy few days ahead of us.

Our current timeline

    ♦  Finished a month ago: Photography for the project extension. This 55,000-image extension, focusing on fragile, precious and decorated books and manuscripts excluded from the first project phase, has kept Imaging Services' two Grazer conservation cradles very busy. See this blog post for more information about the studio's different imaging cradles.


    ♦  Finished three weeks ago: Conservation. Over the summer the Bodleian's conservation studio conserved a final half-dozen Hebrew manuscripts, repairing torn leaves and split boards and doing a final assessment of the last lot of items on our digitization list.


    ♦  Finished earlier this week: Photography for the first project phase of 500,000 images. Most of this work was done a year ago, but a final tranche of about 13,000 images' worth of reshoots and last-minute additions was completed this month on the studio's Atiz cradles. These are mostly Hebrew paper manuscripts, plus one Greek incunable.


    ♦  Finished yesterday: Quality assurance checks by studio staff on all the captured images. Studio staff check each image of each page in each volume against the original, looking for missed pages, inconsistent cropping or colour processing, and poor focus. For reshoots, this process is particularly time-consuming, as the reshot images must be inserted into the original sequence and checked for visual consistency.


    ♦  Finished today: Creation of derivative images and basic metadata. After images are checked by the studio, they go to Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Services (BDLSS) staff, who use the workflow management tool Goobi to validate the images, create derivative images (JPEGs and JPEG2000s), and add basic metadata such as foliation labels.


    ♦  Still underway: Creation and verification of full bibliographic metadata. For incunables and Greek manuscripts, BDLSS staff can pull catalogue information from existing electronic catalogues. For Hebrew manuscripts there is no complete electronic catalogue, so BDLSS staff work with the Hebrew curator to pull catalogue information either from the TEI catalogue descriptions created for this project or from the Bodleian's two print catalogues of Hebrew manuscripts. This can be a time-consuming process, especially if a manuscript contains many different works bound together.


    ♦  Still underway: Final processing of images and metadata to Digital.Bodleian. After the images and metadata have been double-checked, all that remains is a series of automatic script steps to create derivative metadata, assign unique dataset identifiers, copy all the files to their new home in the Digital.Bodleian repository, and index the metadata in Solr so that the new items are discoverable via the Digital.Bodleian website.


    ♦  Still underway: Adding everything to the digitized item lists on this website. 


We will be wrapping up those final three tasks today, tomorrow and the next day.

What happens next?

We will be continuing to blog here after the digitization phase is over. We will be devoting a few posts to how people are using Polonsky Project materials, so if you're using something we or the Vatican Library have digitized, please get in touch. We will also be writing a few more reflective posts about the work the project has entailed and how, if at all, our methods for doing that work have changed. And we'll continue to feature related Bodleian and Vatican items, displaying them in Mirador for comparison.


Both libraries will be continuing with other non-Polonsky digitization streams, launching new digitization projects, and working on ways to improve our existing digitized content with more metadata and better tools. We also recommend that anyone interested in this project check out the Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project and the Polonsky Foundation England and France Project, Polonsky-funded collaborations between the British Library and the National Library of Israel and the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, respectively.