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Telematics for Libraries - Projects


Updated: 16 JAN 98

Project Number and Title
2031 - Bibliographic Records and Images: a CD-ROM of incunabula editions
Programme/Action line Call Topic(s) Start End Project Duration
in Months
FP 3/ IV Theme 17 January 1994 July 1996 30
incunabula; CD-ROM; enhanced bibliographic records; image capture; microfilm; digitisation

New bibliographic record products and services applying internationally recognised standards (Theme: 17)
Project description
The project investigated the feasibility and viability of producing a CD-ROM product combining textual records with digital images of selected document pages; this extends and enhances the methodology of bibliographical description. The prototype is based on incunable editions, but the techniques evaluated will be applicable to other library materials.
Current methods of identifying incunable editions rely on the transcription of selected passages and pages. The project investigated using, instead, images taken from the material as the basis of identification and developed appropriate guidelines on their selection and use as an enhancement to the bibliographical description. The resulting prototype was evaluated by potential users (libraries and researchers) for usability and functionality.
Technical approach
The iterative character of the project was reflected by the workpackages which constituted it:
  • Requirements analysis and functional specification of the first prototype;
  • User survey;
  • Development and production of the first CD-ROM;
  • Evaluation and testing of the first CD-ROM and modification of the specification;
  • Development and production of second CD-ROM;
  • User survey update;
  • Final evaluation and testing;
  • Final CD-ROM;
  • Exploitation plans.
Key issues
The main technical issues explored were:
  • standard criteria for selection of bibliographically significant material;
  • standards of quality for microfilm;
  • standards of quality for scanned images;
  • procedures for linking scanned images to bibliographic records;
  • prototype functionality, market and use.
Impact and results
CD-ROM portability provides an excellent tool for access to widespread collections of incunabula - and to individual materials normally restricted by reason of value or condition. In addition, the process of digitising microform images for CD-ROM and the standard developed for the textual/visual images involved have wider implications. (extension to all hand-press books - up to about 1830 - being a notable example).
The main results were:
  • a prototype CD-ROM with associated selected images for 5,000 incunable editions;
  • a documented and published standard relating to the format and content of enhanced type of textual/visual bibliographical record and to the application of the record type to early printed materials.
The natural outcome of the project is a commercial exploitation of the CD-ROM, so that most of the deliverables are of a confidential or restricted category. These include:
  • Interim documentation, such as functional requirements analysis, image and microfilm standards and microfilm procedures;
  • User survey findings;
  • Pilot CD-ROMs containing bibliographic records and images of incunabula;
  • Evaluation report;
  • Exploitation plans covering commercialisation, intellectual property and production rights.
Of the above, parts of the evaluation report and exploitation plans are publicly available, as is the final report. The final CD-ROM is publicly available, subject to commercial considerations. In addition, in the public domain are:
  • Technical report on alternative image capture methods;
  • Various proceedings, articles and press releases.


Name of Institution/Organisation Postal Code / City Country
The British Library, Reader Services & Collection Development UK - LONDON NW1 2DB UK
Title, First Name, Name Mr M. CRUMP Address: 96 Euston Road
Tel: +44-171-412 7541 Fax: +44-171-412 7327
E-mail 1: E-mail 2:

Other Partners

Name of Institution/Organisation Country Role
Biblioteca Nazionale IT P
Bibliothèque Royale Albert 1er BE P
Instituto da Biblioteca Nacional e do Livro PT P
Koninklijke Bibliotheek NL P
Research Publications Ltd. UK P
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche IT A

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