The Open Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Malatestiana Library

The Open Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Malatestiana Library

A. Cartelli (University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, Italy), A. Daltri (Biblioteca Malatestiana, Italy), P. Errani (Biblioteca Malatestiana, Italy), M. Palma (University of Cassino, Italy) and P. Zanfini (Biblioteca Malatestiana, Italy)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-845-1.ch086
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Abstract

Many experiences laying on the Internet use have been carried out in Paleography during last years and radical changes in the methods usually adopted in that discipline have been introduced. Furthermore specially planned information systems for bibliographical data management are more and more used and are influencing everyday work and study processes. In the authors’ opinion the proposal for the introduction of special information systems and especially of the Open Catalogue of manuscripts have their roots in the revision of Paleography research and study methods, in the connections the discipline will settle with other sciences (i.e., IS, IT and ICT disciplines) and in the creation of new roles for the users of the information the discipline will produce.
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Introduction

Many experiences laying on the Internet use have been carried out in Paleography during last years and radical changes in the methods usually adopted in that discipline have been introduced. Furthermore specially planned information systems for bibliographical data management are more and more used and are influencing everyday work and study processes.

In the authors’ opinion the proposal for the introduction of special information systems and especially of the Open Catalogue of manuscripts have their roots in the revision of Paleography research and study methods, in the connections the discipline will settle with other sciences (i.e., IS, IT and ICT disciplines) and in the creation of new roles for the users of the information the discipline will produce.

Is There the Need for a Revision of Paleography Research Methods and Instruments?

ICT radically changed the approach scholars had with manuscripts for at least two reasons:

  • a.

    The way manuscripts were analyzed; researchers had in fact to personally study manuscripts in archives or libraries

  • b.

    The medium the members of the scientific community adopted until now to share the results of their work; it was in fact based on a printed Catalogue (i.e., printed matter that acquires its definite form and scientific value only when it is published)

During last years the spreading of networking communication techniques produced relevant effects on the sharing of knowledge and information also within the community of the paleographers and of the scholars involved in manuscripts’ analysis and study. First of all the Web was used to publish the images reproducing manuscripts pages, but there were also experiences concerning on line historical magazines, collections of bibliographies, or special databases on copyists and manuscripts (Cartelli, Miglio, & Palma, 2001).

The considerations and the proposals coming from newly defined disciplines like informing science (Cohen, 1999), led the authors to the definition of a special information system called “Open Catalogue”. This system, which is described in the following section, has been adopted and carried out from the staff of the Malatestiana Library, an ancient Italian library hosting a consistent number of manuscripts.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Catalogue: Usually been a book describing one or more ancient manuscripts or books (hosted or not in the same library but having some common feature). The Internet, and especially the Web, have changed the way of cataloguing manuscripts and new ways of making available their information are today possible. The Open Catalogue of manuscripts is the solution adopted from the Malatestiana Library in Cesena and from the Lancisiana Library in Rome.

Information System: The whole set of persons, data records, and activities that process information in a given organization. It includes manual processes and automated processes. Recently the definition has been erroneously used as a synonymous for computer-based information system, where only the technological component of an information system is included.

Open Catalogue: The answer to the need of spreading information on manuscripts and ancient books in the knowledge society. It intensively uses IT and ICT and is mostly based on an information system which can be differently accessed from various kinds of people. It aims at the joint management of information storing and retrieving while creating a sort of “virtual library”.

Web Technologies: A very general definition including both the basic instruments for the creation of dynamic Web sites (Web server software, interface language, database instruments) and the instruments marking the evolution of the Web towards Web 2.0 (social-networking sites, wikis and folksonomies) and Web 3.0 (Semantic Web, Geospatial Web or 3D Web).

Manuscript: A book handwritten by a copyist on parchment or paper. Manuscripts were especially used in the Middle Ages before printing invention and every manuscript is unique because there are no duplicates for it. Even if the text in two books is the same, as in the case of a model and its copy, the two books can be different in script, physical appearance and even text, because a handwritten copy always contains some changes with respect to its source.

Paleography: The discipline studying ancient writing styles and their evolution during the centuries. It can be defined a cross-discipline because it needs deep competences from a lot of fields: Greek and Latin ancient languages, philology, history and literature only to cite some among them.

Codicology: The discipline studying the structure of ancient manuscripts from binding to pages’ materials (parchment or paper) and structure till illuminations; it also studies the arrangement of the text within the pages. During last decades together with the qualitative description of the codices their quantitative study affirmed and is today a solid branch of the discipline.

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