Digitizing a medieval book of hours

Canon Grandel’s Prayerbook.

A lovely, utilitarian and fairly standard book digitization set-up.

Though the book of hours probably dates to around 1500, the binding is not original and the book was likely rebound in the early 18th century, –thankfully not too tightly. One had to be careful turning each page, but the book itself was surprisingly sturdy. Two cameras help to keep the process moving, one trained on verso, one recto.

We were able to monitor each shot on the computer screen in front, as each page turn could involve a re-focus. It is far easier to monitor that as you go along, than to try and rectify errors after the fact.

Using the white paper to help steady and support the spine was mostly a good idea, except for the colour. Lesson learned: we should have tried to find something black, as white tends to , of course , reflect light which mucks up the coloration a bit.

A see-through, adjustable, v-shaped sheet of plastic helps to carefully flatten the pages and keeps the image stable for photographing.

We created .tiff files for preservation  and from them jpgs to render in the institutional repository. We also were able to export a .pdf file and that was loaded onto the Internet Archive so the a researcher did not have to download the entire book, but peruse at their leisure in a book -like page turning experience.

A great,  big Thank you to Elika and the members of the CulturePlex !


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