In a recent Welsh-language blog, we reported that the Library’s newly-acquired manuscript of the Laws of Hywel Dda had been disbound and repaired, ready for digitisation. An accompanying English-language blog by Professor Paul Russell of Cambridge University describes the same process. In this blog, Simon Evans, one of the Library’s most experienced Digital Imaging Officers, reports on the latest development in the project:
“It’s quite rare for me to have a completely dis-bound manuscript to capture. Normally, a 90 degree book cradle would be used for all medieval manuscripts.
In this case, the equipment used is an i2s Digibook Suprascan, which is used extensively to digitise flat materials i.e. drawings, maps etc, as well as some less delicate bound volumes.
It has fully adjustable glass, allowing me to apply just enough weight to keep the pages from curling, thus achieving good quality, evenly focused images.
This is also quite a fast machine. Built in illumination sweeps across the scan area, reducing exposure to bright light and the overall time that the material spends under the glass.
Once captured, one set of full resolution images are archived in digital storage, then derivatives are made for presenting online.
Because of the requirements of the binders, some extra preparation was required for the images to be printed to make the facsimile.
This mostly involves the sizing of the pages, making sure they can be bound in a way as close to the original as possible. Further adjustment will be made by the staff in the Photography department, who will accurately match the colour and print the images.”
Simon’s images will be available on the Library’s Digital Mirror early in 2013. The Boston Manuscript will now return to the bindery, so that our craftsmen may begin their painstaking work of creating fine facsimiles: exact replicas of the original.