This site is the first phase of The Virtual Manuscript Room (VMR) project. In this phase, we present full digitized manuscripts from The Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern Manuscripts held at Special Collections in the University of Birmingham. This collection, previously unavailable on the web, has been designated as of national and international importance. As well as high-resolution images of each page, the VMR provides descriptions from the printed catalogue and from Special Collections' own records.
The next phase of the VMR will provide a framework to bring together digital resources related to manuscript materials (digital images, descriptions and other metadata, transcripts) in an environment which will permit libraries to add images, scholars to add and edit metadata and transcripts online, and users to access material. Two other groups of content, amounting to over 50,000 digital images of manuscripts, 500 manuscript descriptions and around 1000 pages of transcripts, will be added in the next phase of the VMR: materials relating to the New Testament and to medieval vernacular texts (Dante, Chaucer, and others).
The Birmingham VMR will integrate with a parallel VMR already under construction at the University of Münster, Germany, with the aim that users may access material seamlessly from either VMR, as if the two were one. In addition, a key aim is that others may be able to extend the VMR by providing further resources, metadata and links.
This integration will be built on agreed naming systems for resources, and agreed Web 2.0 service protocols for requesting and supplying resources from each server, thus permitting users to draw together ('mash-up') materials seamlessly as required. The VMR will also be linked through to the online archive catalogue and to the Birmingham University Institutional Repository.
The Virtual Manuscript Room is being created in Birmingham by the Institute of Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing (ITSEE), with funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee, in partnership with the Institute for New Testament Textual Research, Münster, Germany.
The VMR has several crucial differences from other initiatives in the world of digital resource creation and enrichment:
Taken together, these features will enable any scholar with access to computer and basic computing skills to create high-quality scholarly materials over the web, and have it found and used by others.