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Parker Library on the Web celebrates 10th Anniversary with a new service



Corpus Christi College and Stanford University Libraries begin development on Parker on the Web 2.0, which will offer new functionality and improved user experience.

14 July 2015Parker on the Web has become one of the leading digital medieval manuscript sites since 2005, when an early prototype was first demonstrated.  Now, ten years after the prototype, and six years after the release of the first production version, work has begun on Parker on the Web 2.0. 

The most visible changes will involve an entirely restyled website, access optimized for mobile devices as well as fixed-location computing, and full compatibility with the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF).  At the same time, important changes will be made to the business model, which will no longer require an institutional site license for comprehensive access when Parker 2.0 is launched in January 2018.   

Parker 2.0 will meet the standards developed by IIIF for delivery of image resources online. The application program interfaces (APIs) of IIIF will make the content of Parker 2.0 compatible with content from partner institutions, such as e-codices, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, the national libraries of France, Norway and the United Kingdom, and a growing number of universities. 

In addition to facilitating the comparative study of manuscripts, Parker 2.0 will also integrate with a growing suite of IIIF-compatible tools for annotation, transcription and image analysis. 

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided major funding to build and produce the current version of Parker on the Web.  Since 2009, the site has provided scholars and students around the world with high-resolution images of every imageable page in the Parker Library’s collection of manuscripts, detailed descriptive metadata and related bibliographies.  This content has been regularly improved in light of new scholarship and research with semi-annual updates curated by Parker Library staff. 

“Parker on the Web required all custom development when it was originally produced—and with it, custom effort to maintain and enhance it,” said Tom Cramer, Associate Director for Digital Library Systems and Services at Stanford University Libraries, who oversees the technical team maintaining the site.

Cramer also indicated that upgrading the technical structure of Parker on the Web would greatly reduce the cost of site maintenance. “With Parker 2.0, we have a chance to move to common components and infrastructure, which will add new functionality and reduce the level of effort to keep it up to date.” 

Although basic access to the site has always been free of charge, a comprehensive licensed access service was established for institutions and experts who wished to study the manuscripts with greater access.  Revenue from the sale of these institutional site licenses has underwritten updates and site maintenance, and will fund the development cost for Parker 2.0.     

“Special ad-hoc pathways have been necessary to enable IIIF-compatible access to Parker images during the life of Parker on the Web’s current versions,” explains John Haeger, Special Projects Director for the Stanford Libraries.  “While these have provided adequate support for IIIF-based research projects at several institutions, Stanford and Corpus are pleased that Parker 2.0 will offer full support for IIIF APIs as an integral part of its design.”  

The purchase of a onetime perpetual institutional site license with annual maintenance fee for Parker on the Web will be discontinued immediately.  However, HARRASSOWITZ, the current distributor for Parker on the Web, will continue to manage subscriptions and prorated orders until 2018 when the current version of Parker on the Web is replaced. 

From the outset, Parker on the Web was focused on comprehensive digitization of an entire and historically important collection, intact since it was given in 1574 to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, by Matthew Parker, a former Master of the College and Archbishop of Canterbury.   

“Matthew Parker always intended his manuscript collections to be freely available and the outreach of Parker on the Web brings these precious and vulnerable treasures to a universal audience which would have been unimaginable in the sixteenth century,” said Christopher de Hamel, Donnelley Fellow Librarian at Corpus Christi College.

The upgrades scheduled for the 2.0 version of the site are intended to keep Parker on the Web a relevant resource and interactive workspace for the study of the collection’s manuscripts.

“Parker 2.0 helps us to fulfill the commitment Stanford and Corpus made in 2005 to assure a sustainable online future for the manuscript contents of the Parker Library, while simultaneously enabling essentially free and universal access,” remarked Michael A. Keller, Stanford’s University Librarian and co-originator of the Parker Library on the Web with de Hamel.

The Parker Library's holdings of Old English texts account for a substantial proportion of all extant manuscripts in Anglo-Saxon, including the earliest copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (c. 890), unique copies of Old English poems and other texts, and King Alfred's translation of Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care. The Parker Library also contains key Anglo-Norman and Middle English texts ranging from the Ancrene Wisse and the Brut Chronicle to one of the finest copies of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde. Other subjects represented in the collection are theology, music, medieval travelogues and maps, apocalypses, bestiaries, royal ceremonies, historical chronicles and Bibles. The Parker Library holds a magnificent collection of English illuminated manuscripts, such as the Bury and Dover Bibles (c. 1135 and c. 1150) and the Chronica maiora by Matthew Paris (c. 1230-50). Scholars in a variety of disciplines - including historians of art, music, science, literature, politics and religion - find invaluable resources in the Library's collection.

Corpus Christi College was founded 1352 by the Guilds of Corpus Christi and the Blessed Virgin Mary and is one of the ancient constituent colleges of the University of Cambridge. 

The Stanford University Libraries (SUL) is more than a cluster of libraries; it connects people with information by providing diverse resources and services to the academic community. SUL includes more than 20 individual libraries across campus, each with a world-class collection of books, journals, films, maps, databases, and more. The Digital Library Systems and Services group is the information technology production arm of the Stanford Libraries; it serves as the digitization, digital preservation and access systems provider for SUL; and it is the research and development unit for new technologies, standards and methodologies related to library systems.


PRESS CONTACT: Gabrielle Karampelas | 650-497-4414

By Gabrielle Karampelas

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