About earlier phases of Parker on the Web

Manuscript 272 f. 3 V

Parker Library on the Web 1.x was a multi-year undertaking of Corpus Christi College, the Stanford University Libraries and Cambridge University Library, catalyzed by Corpus and Stanford alum Andrew M. Thompson, to produce a high-resolution digital copy of every imageable page of most manuscripts in the Parker Library of Corpus Christi College (Cambridge University Press, 1912). To provide a viewing environment for these images, an interactive web application was built which allows use by scholars and students in the context of supporting descriptive material and bibliography. Of the 559 manuscripts described on the site, 538 were numbered and catalogued by M. R. James in his 1912 catalogue of the collection. A very small number of these are printed books, mistakenly catalogued as manuscripts in the 18th century, and most of these have been excluded. The online collection also includes volumes given to the library after the James catalogue was published. These additions are described in the Vaughan and Fines handlist and in material supplied by the Parker Librarian.

There are a few manuscripts with paper pages which are badly damaged by moisture, or those with very fragile bindings, which at present cannot be successfully imaged in their totality. Exterior images and selected pages have been provided for each of these fragile manuscripts where possible. The manuscripts which have not been imaged in their entirety are: MSS 86, 87, 89, 212, 215, 216, 217, 224, 240, 246, 249, 486, 494, 501, 502, 517, 523, 525, 526, 527, and 542.

The project is of major importance for creating and preserving quality images of unique materials. All images and metadata have been placed in a managed digital preservation repository.

Although the core project was completed concurrent with the launch of version 1.0 of the web application on 1 October 2009, semi-annual updates continued through 2017 to add pieces of content, selected functionality, and correct bugs, omissions and other errors. With Parker 2.0, updates will be made on a rolling basis thanks to the flexibility afforded by the new platform.

The project was generously supported by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Grants were also received from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.


Parker manuscript images were created by Cambridge University Library imaging staff, working in dedicated space at Corpus Christi College:

Using state-of-the-art digital capture technology3 custom-built rigs with cradles2 Linhof Master Technika 2000 4 x 5 cameras and 2 Anagramm PictureGate Salvadore digital backs (8000 x 9700 pixels, producing an average file size of 222 MB)1 Hasselblad camera and a PhaseOne P45 digital back (7230 x 5428 pixels, producing an average file size of 120 MB)120 mm lenses used for most work; 135 mm lens for special itemsWith imaging workflow supported by Capture One softwareUsing a color-managed process, baseline RGB/DLF Benchmark for Faithful Digital Reproductions of Monographs and Serials: colorSaving master files in uncompressed TIFF 6.0 format for preservation archivingProduced in an environment that was safe and protective of each manuscriptValidated by stringent quality assurance procedures at each stage

Master image files were delivered to the team at Stanford University Libraries, where they underwent additional quality checks, image processing, and preservation archiving in the Stanford Digital Repository. Sub-masters and derivative images were produced by the Stanford team as follows:

Two sub-masters were created for each master image file, both LZW-compressed. Color correction, deskew, and rotation were applied as necessary. One sub-master remained uncropped to include a color bar and scale. The second sub-master received identical rotation, color correction, and deskew, and the color bar was cropped to present the images with minimal visible background.A JPEG2000 derivative was produced for each sub-master. JPEG2000 files were encoded using the Aware codec at a PSNR of 46.The average size for each 5-file set (1 master, 2 sub-masters, 2 derivatives) was 500 MB for the Anagramm-produced images and 400 MB for the P45-produced images.

Manuscript Descriptions

The majority of the manuscript descriptions on this website are based on the 1909-12 catalogue of the Parker Library by M.R. James, with additional information drawn from the supplemental handlist by Richard Vaughan and John Fines of 1960 and descriptive material provided by the Parker Library for any manuscripts acquired later. As part of Parker on the Web, project staff have created an XML-encoded version of the catalogues which contains some expanded or corrected information. These descriptive references serve dual functions: providing information about the individual manuscripts and also providing a navigation tool for the collection.

The electronic edition of the James Catalogue

Members of the Parker on the Web team worked to encode the text of the catalogues as a single XML document, including the parts that M. R. James took directly from the 18th-century catalogue of James Nasmith. The standard for encoding is based on the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines for Electronic Text Coding and Interchange(P4) with some customization. It is anticipated that a future release will produce a fully updated TEI P5-compliant document which will include all of James's catalogue, the additional information from Vaughan and Fines, and all material added to the descriptions by the project team.

Revisions and additional information

The goal of the manuscript description work was to provide a useful descriptive and navigation tool to the collection in an electronic format based on the most complete published catalogues available. Therefore, no attempt was made to provide a definitive verification of all the information written by James, and no attempt has been made at this time to remedy all of James's inconsistencies. The long descriptions on this website should thus be considered an electronic reflection of the available printed catalogues. Nevertheless, the Parker on the Web team has enhanced the descriptions to ensure that authors and titles are accurate, and provided updated foliation statements, measurements, and other additions where relevant. Additions or corrections to the descriptions, such as alternative titles or codicological details, are displayed in different typeface and colour on the website (see Interpret MS Descriptions, [tutorial] and [slideshow]). Finally, it will be noticed that some catalogue numbers are further subdivided with letters. These subdivisions, for the most part, reflect the binding history of the manuscripts in question. A list of these manuscripts, and further information, can be found here.

Bibliography Development

The website provides for each manuscript extensive bibliographies that range from a few entries to over a hundred. Each bibliographic citation provides a short comment summarizing what is said about the manuscript, and keyword searches of these comments can be made on the website. Bibliography is categorized within five basic areas: (i) general; (ii) text and author; (iii) paleography and codicology; (iv) art history; (v) provenance. Inevitably there is some overlap between these categories, and only one category is used for each citation, so users are advised not to assume that a category search will always bring up all items for a particular manuscript relevant to that category. Keyword searches may be a better way, or an additional way, to pick up all the relevant references. In addition, it will be noticed that some catalogue numbers are further subdivided with letters. These subdivisions, for the most part, reflect the binding history of the manuscripts in question. A list of these manuscripts, and further information, can be found here.

The citations are almost exclusively to books and articles that specifically mention the individual Corpus Christi manuscript and/or provide editions of its texts. In certain cases additional bibliography is provided on some of the authors and texts, even if those publications do not specifically cite the Corpus manuscript. This is particularly so for lesser known authors and texts, and such additional bibliography is not usually provided for famous examples. If an edition of the text has been published, even if the editor did not use the Corpus manuscript, it is usually included. A restriction in the citations of editions is in regard to early printed books pre-1600. Some famous medieval texts were indeed printed as incunabula or sixteenth-century books, but these editions are quite frequently far removed from the text in the Corpus manuscript, and it would be misleading to cite them. However, when there is no modern edition of a text, there are cases where incunabula and sixteenth-century books are cited.

Website Technologies

The Parker on the Web site brings together several commercial, open source, and locally built technologies to create an application for viewing and searching digital images, manuscript descriptions, and related bibliographic references. The two major components of the application are the search engine and image presentation application.

Search and Results Display

The Apache Group's open-source Lucene search engine powers the search and browse sections of the site. Lucene is used to create indexes of XML-encoded manuscript descriptions and a large database of related bibliographic references. The indexes are updated as new manuscripts are added to the site and as project bibliographers identify new citations to Parker manuscripts in related bibliography.

Brief results summary pages and all supporting pages in the site are rendered using the Struts framework (http://struts.apache.org/), JavaServer Pages, and Java tag libraries. The long manuscript descriptions, which contain transcriptions of full James catalogue entries, are derived from an XSLT transformation of the XML-encoded descriptions using the Saxon XSLT processor.

Image Display and Page Turning

Providing users with a fast and versatile means of smoothly viewing, zooming, and panning large, high-resolution images of manuscript pages was a critical challenge for the project. The image presentation component of the site takes advantage of JPEG2000 image file compression and an image server application that dynamically decodes JPEG2000 files for viewing and manipulation in the web browser without the need for plug-in or other third-party software. Scanned TIFF images of manuscript pages are encoded as lossy JPEG2000 files using the Aware SDK. Aware's JPEG2000 image server application decodes images and presents them as JPEG tiles to the web browser dynamically.

The interactive page-turn view and the single-page inspect view are flexible, custom-built JavaScript applications that allow users to zoom, pan, and rotate images smoothly in the web browser.

Server Environment

The Parker on the Web application is hosted on a dedicated Linux server environment and runs in a single Tomcat instance.

Project Teams

Cambridge University Library

Project Director: Peter Fox

Head of Imaging Services: Don Manning

Lead camera operators

  • Maciej Pawlikowski (2007-2009)
  • Sarah Durand (2006-2007)
  • Nancy Ross (2005-2006)

Camera operators

  • Gillian Bates (2006-2009)
  • Anna Karbownik (2007-2009)
  • Błażej Mikuła (2007-2009)
  • George Self (2009)
  • Urszula Wencka (2006-2008)
  • Maciej Pawlikowski (2006-2007)
  • Sarah Durand (2005-2006)
  • Christopher Jones (2005-2007)

Acknowledgements: Others contributing to the successful completion of the digitisation were: Patricia Killiard (Head of Electronic Services and Systems at the University Library), Gerry Bye (former Head of Imaging Services Systems at the University Library) and Simon Tanner (Consultant).

Corpus Christi College

Project Director: John Hatcher

Project Manager: Nigel Morgan


  • Rebecca Rushforth (2005-9)
  • Neil Coates (2005-9)
  • Elizabeth Boyle (2008-9)
  • Keith Waters (2008-9)
  • Denis Casey (2009)

XML Manuscript Description

  • Giuliano Di Bacco (2006-9)
  • Christine Feld (2006-9)
  • Suzanne Paul (2007-9)
  • Benjamin Albritton (2008-9)


  • Melvin Jefferson (2005-9)
  • Elizabeth Bradshaw (2005-9)
  • Edward Cheese (2006-9)

The Pilot Project (2004-5)

Haroon Ahmed (Director), John Cleaver (Manager), Timothy Bolton

Acknowledgements: The success of the scholarly research, manuscript preparation and digitisation carried out within Corpus Christi College owes much to the assistance provided by Fellows and Staff. Particular thanks are due to Christopher de Hamel (Donnelly Parker Fellow Librarian), Gillian Cannell (Assistant Parker Librarian), Anil Keetoon (Computer Officer), and Nigel Yandell and Sue Ainger-Brown (Bursars). Patricia Easterling compiled the bibliography for the small number of Greek manuscripts in the collection.

Stanford University Libraries

University Librarian: Michael A. Keller

Project Director: John Haeger

  • Catherine A. Aster, Project Manager
  • Jon Bischofberger, Digital Image Processing
  • Doris Cheung, Digital Production Coordinator
  • Susan Flaherty, Digital Image Processing
  • Jennie Floyd, Research Assistant
  • Emma Gorst, Research Assistant
  • Christopher Jesudurai, Web Application Developer
  • Douglas Kim, Web Application Developer
  • Oleg Lyutov, Digital Image Processing
  • Michael Olson, Project Manager
  • Alison Parks-Whitfield, Quality Assurance Analyst
  • Daniel Sanchez, Digital Image Processing
  • Stuart K. Snydman, Project Manager
  • Jenna Venturini, Digital Image Processing
  • Amber Weathers, Digital Production Coordinator
  • Rebecca Wedl, Research Assistant
  • Kilpatrick Will, Digital Image Processing
  • Nina Yang, Digital Image Processing

Members of the Parker Consultative Group

  • Paula Findlen (Stanford University)
  • Martin K. Foys (Hood College, Drew University)
  • Alexandra Gillespie (University of Toronto)
  • John Haeger (Stanford University Libraries)
  • Andrew C. Herkovic (Stanford University Libraries)
  • Assunta Pisani (Stanford University Libraries)
  • Hans Rütimann (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation)
  • Jennifer Summit (Stanford University)