Antiphonary of Sedlec, Antiphonarium Sedlecense XIII A 6.
When UNESCO's Memory of the World project began in 1992, the National Library of the Czech Republic welcomed the opportunity to discover new solutions to problems of access and preservation for its fragile materials. Within a year, the library had produced a pilot CD-ROM containing sample images and a list of its most valuable historical holdings. The library formed a partnership with Albertina icome Praha Ltd. to establish the digitization project known as Memoriae Mundi Series Bohemica. The first product of their collaboration is this publication of the Antiphonarium Sedlecense, billed as the first CD-ROM of a complete medieval manuscript. The manuscript is given a detailed treatment that will be extended to only the most important items in this digitization project, but in fact the great detail offered here illustrates the capabilities of the CD-ROM format for the access and study of manuscript materials.
The manuscript was created in the thirteenth century and is notable for the quality of its decorations, which show the influences of the crusaders' art on Bohemian illumination. It was repaired and bound in the seventeenth century with the addition of new paper pages, some containing new texts and others replacing damaged parchment pages. A number of hands were involved in the manuscript's creation, correction, and revision through the centuries. This product provides access to clear images of each manuscript page, thus giving researchers an opportunity to make comparisons among illuminations, notation, handwriting, and other features. This focus on the visual content of the manuscript, especially concerning the nature and artistic value of the illuminations, influenced the design of the CD-ROM.
The CD contains English and Czech versions of a database describing and providing access to each page of the manuscript. The database uses fourteen fields: Pagination/Foliation, Writing Medium, Description of the Written Space, State of Preservation, Scribe, Additions, Type of Illumination, Motif of Illumination, Author of Illumination, Liturgical Section, Liturgical Day, Hora, Function, and Incipit (text). All but the last three fields are indexed and can be used for searching. The fields are described in full in the main Help area under "Current Database." This region also contains an introduction to the CD-ROM by project administrators Adolf Knoll and Stanislav Psohlavec (from the National Library and Albertina icome Praha, respectively); an analysis of the manuscript, which includes a bibliographic description of the manuscript and its binding by Zdenka Hledikova, discussion of the illuminations by Hana Hlavackova, and remarks on the notation and a description of the contents by David Eben; a bibliography of related research; and imprint and acknowledgments. The Help area's index provides guidance for the use of the database, and many of the topics are also available as contextual help.
WiniFreT software, a product of Albertina icome Praha Ltd., is the user interface that provides access to the full-color images and the database of descriptive information. The program opens to the main Query window, presenting eleven fields in which to input search terms. At this point, the user may opt to click on the search button located on the toolbar (or pull down the Query menu and select F5) to retrieve all 525 database records for the cover and 524 pages of the manuscript. Searches like this one, resulting in more than one hit, return a display showing a spreadsheet arrangement of information, the List of Selected Records window, with field descriptors across the top and data below. For the longer fields, such as Supplement (which is called "Additions" in the Help area outlined above and describes later corrections and changes to the manuscript), only the first forty or so characters in the field are displayed. The horizontal scroll bar must be used to view the rightmost fields. The toolbar offers the option of viewing the records sequentially or skipping to a specific record number. Although a counter indicates the number of the record that has been selected (e.g., Record 1/86), the list itself is not numbered.
Should the user wish to perform a narrower search, several options are available in the main Query window. Global searching across the text fields is available as a toolbar button or from the Query menu. The usual Boolean operators are available; the question mark provides single-character internal truncation and the asterisk provides right truncation. A maximum of 256 characters can be input in the global-search entry area. The contextual help for global searching only hints at the fact that searching is not global across all eleven fields. Text fields available for global searching exclude Pagination, Writing Material, and Motif of Illumination.
Despite the flexibility of the global-searching option, the main Query window invites the entry of search terms into eleven searchable fields, and the software provides several useful features to assist the user in formulating a search. Boolean operators are allowed within fields; "and" is the default operator between fields. Choosing "Logical Expression" from the Query menu or selecting its button on the toolbar opens a window in which more complex combinations of fields can be formed. Three subsets are available, two using "or" and one using "and" within the subsets, with "and" as the operator between the subsets. A single field can be entered in only one subset. The Boolean relationships between fields are distinguished by color in the main Query window: headings for fields which are in an "or" relationship appear in red or blue, depending on the subset to which they belong.
Straightforward entry of text into the fields is possible, but the software also provides a sophisticated field-specific index of available terms. Although all the available fields appear on the screen if it is resized, only one field at a time can be selected. Choosing Index from the Query menu or clicking its button on the toolbar opens an index window that lists the data found in the selected field. For example, selecting the Writing Medium field and then clicking the Index button presents a window containing the two choices for that field: "paper" and "parchment." For the text fields (as defined above) the data is presented either as lines of text or as individual words, and a side toolbar provides a button to toggle between the two options. Thus, Type of Illumination will list as "figural border" through "zoomorphic initial S" or as "AD" through "zoomorphic," depending on the option chosen. A single click on selected text moves it into an edit line, where arrow keys can be used to truncate the entry. The side toolbar provides buttons to move the contents of the edit line into the Query window field, to clear the edit line, to show the number of occurrences of each term or line of text in the index, to toggle between one view of the index that shows all entries and another that shows only the entries matching the contents of the current edit line, and to offer index help. Entries in the Query window can be cleared using a button on the toolbar or from the Query menu. No matter which search strategy the user chooses, queries can be saved and retrieved from Query History. Many commands are also available via function keys or control sequences. These are outlined in the brief accompanying booklet and in the Help Index.
A search resulting in a single hit returns a Result window showing all data about the selected manuscript page in paragraph form. Selecting one entry from the multiple-hit List of Selected Records window also brings the user to this display. In addition to the fields described above, this window contains a preview image of the selected page. The toolbar offers the option of showing the record information without the image. Another button opens a comment window in which the user can type notes of up to 255 characters. The button displays a "smiley face" if a comment has been entered for a selected record. Comments appear in both the List of Selected Records window under Comments and as the last item in the Result window. Other buttons allow the user to go to the next or previous record, the first or last record, or to a specific record number.
The toolbar Picture button brings up a crisp, color, 100%-scale image of the selected manuscript page. A small preview window shows a 12.5% reduction and contains a moveable rectangle with which portions of the page can be selected. As the rectangle is positioned, the larger image changes to show the area selected. The preview window can be toggled on and off using a toolbar button. Another button, showing a ruler, controls the display of two sets of coordinates, one for the cursor's position relative to the image's upper left corner and the other showing the relative coordinates from the moment the left mouse button is pressed until it is released. Image detail can be increased by double-clicking the left mouse button, and decreased by double-clicking the right mouse button. The Picture menu can also be used, and it shows the available image scales: 12.5%, 25%, 33%, 50%, 100%, 200%, 300%, 400%, 600%, and 1000%. The images show some pixelization at 200%; at 1000% the resolution prints at nine pixels per inch and resembles a needlepoint pattern - not a bad idea, considering the colorful illuminations that include many ornamental initials as well as miniatures for Christmas and Easter. Clicking the Print button while viewing a full image at any scale results in a print that is slightly less than 50% scale. To print at a different scale, the user must first choose the scale, then select a portion of the image to print using the Ruler button and mouse. Although 100% scale on the screen is true to the manuscript's measurements of 32 x 44 cm, prints are not necessarily true to scale. When printing the Result window, any fields can be selected for inclusion or exclusion, including the preview image and the Comments field.
Information at the Memoriae Mundi Series Bohemica project website (http://digit.nkp.cz) describes the methodology and focus of the digitization project. Because preservation was a priority for the National Library, image quality, access, and storage were the principal areas of research. For the pilot CD-ROM in the series, the preparation of the manuscript and the searching software afforded an opportunity to demonstrate the lowest acceptable limits for image resolution and to work with specialists in creating an interface specifically designed to enhance the use of this particular manuscript. The approach used for the Antiphonarium Sedlecense was formulated before the explosion of web-based applications, and new efforts will address these concerns using an HTML-based structure. (Several images from the Antiphonarium Sedlecense, along with their associated database entries, are now available on the web. It is here that one learns that the manuscript was photographed on 6 x 9 cm color slides and scanned on rotation laser scanners.)
The musical content of the antiphonary is not a principal focus of this CD-ROM. The notation is described as Cistercian, Metz, and Late Metz. In the narrative analysis of the manuscript, the contents are broadly outlined by liturgical function, and a note explains that the manuscript "records a monastic rite with elements of Cistercian tradition. . . ." Information about the liturgical content is provided only as a means of orientation within the manuscript. One wishes, nevertheless, that the Hora, Function, and Incipit fields were indexed and searchable. The narrative material concerning the illuminations goes into much greater depth, but it would be enhanced by the use of hypertext links to the examples that are discussed. The English translations of the narrative materials are excellent; the WiniFreT help screens are consistently understandable but include an occasional awkward construction. Other minor flaws include a problem with the mapping of icons onto the "back" buttons (Windows 95 installation only; Windows 3.1 worked fine), and a hot link that is not live.
This CD-ROM is not inexpensive, but it solves the problems of preservation and access for a fragile manuscript containing rich visual information. Its use of digital technology to enhance access to images and descriptive information creates a new tool for research and is a worthy model for related efforts.
NANCY NUZZO University at Buffalo
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|Title Annotation:||Software Review; Memoriae Mundi Series Bohemica, part 1|
|Date:||Jun 1, 1998|
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