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Content archived on 2024-04-19

Bibliographic Records and Images: a CD-ROM of incunabula editions


The project is investigating the feasibility and viability of producing a CD-ROM product combining textual records with digital images of selected document pages; this extends and enhances the methodology of bibliographical description. The prototype will be based on incunable editions, but the techniques evaluated will be applicable to other library materials.
Current methods of identifying incunable editions rely on the transcription of selected passages and pages. The project is investigating using, instead, images taken from the material as the basis of identification and is developing appropriate guidelines on their selection and use as an enhancement to the bibliographical description. The resulting prototype will be evaluated by potential users (libraries and researchers) for usability and functionality.
Impact and expected results:
CD-ROM portability provides an excellent tool for access to widespread collections of incunabula - and to individual materials normally restricted by reason of value or condition. In addition, the process of digitising microform images for CD-ROM and the standard developed for the textual/visual images involved have wider implications. (extension to all hand-press books - up to about 1830 - being a notable example).

The main results will be:

- a prototype CD-ROM with associated images of ca 5,000 incunable editions;
- a documented and published standard relating to the format and content of an enhanced type of textual/visual bibliographical record and to the application of the record type to early printed materials.


The natural outcome of the project is a commercial exploitation of the CD-ROM, so that most of the deliverables are of a confidential or restricted category. These include:

Interim documentation, such as functional requirements analysis, image and microfilm standards and microfilm procedures;
User survey findings;
CD-ROMs containing bibliographic records and images of incunabula;
Evaluation report;
Exploitation plans covering commercialisation, intellectual property and production rights.

Of the above, parts of the evaluation report and exploitation plans are publicly available, and this will apply to the final report at project end. Also at project end, the final CD-ROM will be publicly available, subject to commercial considerations. In addition, in the public domain are:

Technical report on alternative image capture methods;
Various proceedings, articles and press releases.
Technical approach:

The iterative character of the project was reflected by the workpackages which constituted it:

Requirements analysis and functional specification of the first prototype;
User survey;
Development and production of the first CD-ROM;
Evaluation and testing of the first CD-ROM and modification of the specification;
Development and production of second CD-ROM;
User survey update;
Final evaluation and testing;
Final CD-ROM;
Exploitation plans.

Key issues:

The main technical issues explored are:

- standard criteria for selection of bibliographically significant material;
- standards of quality for microfilm;
- standards of quality for scanned images;
- procedures for linking scanned images to bibliographic records;
- prototype functionality, market and use.

Call for proposal

Data not available

Funding Scheme

Data not available


British Library
EU contribution
No data
Great Russell Street
WC1B 3DG London
United Kingdom

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Total cost
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Participants (6)