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Telematics for Libraries - Projects


Updated: 22 NOV 99
Project Number and Title

5612 - Manuscript Access through Standards for Electronic Records
Programme/Action line Call Topic(s) Start End Project Duration
in Months
FP 4/ A 2 January 1999

Keywords : document access/delivery (electronic); manuscripts; SGML; standards; union catalogues

Action Line

Action line A: Network-oriented Internal Library Systems

Call Topic(s)

Call Topic 2: Tools and methods for the creation and use of library materials in electronic form

Project description

MASTER will help develop, test and document an internationally agreed standard for electronic description of manuscripts, based on the Text Encoding Initiative implementation of SGML. Using both the full description and a sub-set, a union database of records contributed by the partner libraries will be built up to provide a demonstrator service for accessing manuscripts in Europe.

Technical approach

On the basis of the first draft of the description standard, two systems will be developed to create records, in full SGML format and in simpler format, for use by smaller libraries.

The application of the standard will be assessed through detailed evaluation of the record-creation process in the different partner libraries.
A revised version of the standard will be produced and tested through the same process.
The resultant records will be loaded in SGML format in a union data-base which will link to manuscript images and full-text manuscript transcripts.
The prototype online union catalogue and manuscript publication system will be tested on two hard-ware platforms to demonstrate port-ability and interoperability.

Key issues

The main issues to be explored are:

  • Interchange standards for full and abbreviated descriptions of manuscripts.
  • Interoperability with other data standards, e.g. Dublin Core.
  • Manuscript access and retrieval.
  • Viability of the service model as an access and manuscript publishing system.
  • Development of international consensus on the proposed description standard.


Very few manuscripts are described in machine-readable form and there are not yet the infrastructure or widely available tools to support this. By developing commonly agreed and efficient methods for creating electronic records for manuscripts, and by developing a demonstrator which will link the records to available digital images of the manuscripts themselves, MASTER will have a major impact in making available significant European resources in the field of mediaeval manuscripts.


The main public deliverables will be:

  • Documented and internationally agreed standard description for manuscripts
  • Software tools for electronic record creation
  • Demonstrator online union catalogue of manuscript records
  • Demonstrator of manuscript access and on-demand publishing system
  • Annual and Final project reports.


Name of Institution/Organisation Postal Code / City Country
De Montfort University, Centre for Technology and the Arts LEICESTER LE1 5XY UK
Title, First Name, Name Dr Peter Robinson Address: 49 Oxford Street
Tel: + 44 116 250 6349 Fax: + 44 0116 257 7250
E-mail 1: (email removed) E-mail 2:

Other Partners

Name of Institution/Organisation Country Role
Bildarchiv Foto Marburg DE A
Koninklijke Bibliotheek NL P
L'Institut de recherche et d'histoire des textes FR P
Det Arnamagnaean Institute DK P
National Library of the Czech Republic CZ P
University of Oxford UK P
IBM UK Scientific Centre UK X

Additional information is available from the contact below and from the

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