Browsing and searching are different techniques for finding what you are looking for: when you browse, you choose from lists presented to you, built from the contents of the collection as described by M.R. James in his catalogue; when you search, you type relevant words of your interest into a search box, and those terms are searched for in James' catalogue of the collection. Let's look at searching, by clicking the Search link on the home page.
The easiest way to search the Parker collection is with keyword searching - all the words of all the manuscript descriptions on this site are indexed in the keyword index, so you can do a keyword search to find all occurrences of any word or phrase. Note too that there are other indexes as well for searching by specific fields in the descriptions - but the keyword search provides the only access to information that is not included in those other separate indexes.
For example, suppose you were interested in the layout of text on manuscript pages; you might consider a keyword search for the phrase "four columns." We'll enter the phrase in the keyword entry box, and notice that we put it in quotation marks since we want the manuscript descriptions that include those two words together - without the quotation marks, our search result would also include manuscript descriptions that have both words appearing separately, not as a phrase.
From the results set returned by the search we'll select MS 144, The Corpus Glossary, from the result set and click "Description" to see its full description. The Glossary, which dates to the early ninth century, is an alphabetical list of Latin words with their Old English equivalents. The information about the manuscript's codicology, in the head of the description, represents the layout of the text as "four columns on a page."
[circle or highlight these words on the screen]
To look at this manuscript, click the Images link. We can use the arrow keys to move from page to page, or the slider bar to jump proportionally around the manuscript, as we described in the previous tutorial. In this case, we know the precise location we'd like to examine, so we'll enter "45" in the go-to box and choose "verso" from the radio buttons to go to folio 45 verso. You can see that it's in four columns, as James said. It has an attractive, ornamented "P" heading the glossary entries that begin with that letter.
Click "zoom view" and then zoom with the slider bar and click and drag the marquee on the thumbnail image of the manuscript page to bring the ornamented "P" into full view.
[fade and longer pause here]
Searching by specific fields can be more precise and thus more powerful than browsing or searching by keyword - if your search criteria match up with the fields that are indexed. For example, if you are looking for pictures of angels in the Parker manuscripts, instead of typing angel in the keyword search, which would find all manuscripts where the word angel is included in any of the fields, we can use the "decoration" index to be more specific, to find all manuscripts where angels are mentioned specifically by James in relation to the decoration of the manuscript. We'll select search, go to the search box for "decoration" and type "angel" in the box.
This returns a number of manuscripts, each with relevant decoration details shown. You can see that some manuscripts return more than one result. Let's scroll down to the fourth manuscript, MS 32, an interesting manuscript of Biblical material in English, made circa 1400. We could view the long description for MS 32 by clicking the link that says "Description".
Or we could go straight to the image of the angel-related decoration on 63v by clicking the link that says "page/folio". To see the figure in detail, we can zoom on the image in the lower right corner of the page, and there is the figure of an angel appearing to two shepherds.
Let's try one more search by a specific field - let's search for manuscripts that James described as once being part of the collections at St. Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury. We'll select Search, go to the Provenance field, and type Augustine in the search box.
In the search results, we see brief records for a number of manuscripts . By the way, if we had done a keyword search for Augustine instead of the specific provenance search, our search result would indeed have these same manuscripts, but it would also include many other manuscripts that do not have Augustine in their provenance field but which reference Augustine in some other way that isn't relevant to the search; for example, the Parker collection contains a lot of manuscripts of the works of Augustine of Hippo. By using the specific Provenance search field, we get the more precise result that we wanted.