The Library of Stains: Using Multispectral Imaging on Medieval Manuscripts

Written by Heather Wacha

The stains found on medieval manuscripts immediately draw us to moments from a book’s past life, signalling the remains of human interactions over time. The Library of Stains project has set out to privilege the very manuscripts that are often overlooked due to heavy soiling and damage, and to use their stains, which have typically been undervalued, to learn more about their history and use. The project ran from August 2017 to September 2018, and set as its goals 1) to provide an online database that will allow scholars, librarians, and conservators to better analyze the materiality, provenance, use and preservation of manuscripts and early-printed books, 2) to document and disseminate a methodological approach for analyzing stains, and 3) to provide a model for public-facing interdisciplinary collaboration. With generous support of a microgrant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), we were able to image and analyze stains from about 40 Western European manuscripts, ranging from the 12th to the 18th centuries, held in the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, the Science History Institute, the Library of Congress, the University of Wisconsin Special Collections, and the University of Iowa Special Collections. The project was led by a team of interdisciplinary postdoctoral scholars — Erin Connelly, Alberto Campagnolo, and Heather Wacha — and collaborators Michael Toth of R.B. Toth Associates and William Christens-Berry of Equipoise Imaging. (more…)

Refresh Your Data Management Savvy This New Year

Happy New Year’s! The start of a new year and a new semester are as good a time as ever to evaluate your data management practices. Here are some reminders about data management best practices, groups on campus who can help you with managing your data, and some upcoming opportunities for you to sharpen your skills.