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Open Access: Imaging Policies for Medieval Manuscripts in Three University Libraries Compared

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Abstract:

Obtaining access both to the content in medieval manuscripts, as well as to images that scholars can publish to support the creation of new knowledge about the past, often involves significant hurdles. Libraries, museums, and archives do not always facilitate the process of making available images suitable for publication. While every manuscript repository has its own policy, the author sees some encouraging trends that foster scholarship as well as some troublesome practices that slow it down. This article compares the access to information in medieval manuscripts and access to images of those manuscripts at three university libraries: Leiden University Library in The Netherlands, Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University in the United States. Institutions that have discovery tools on the Web, that provide access to new photography and to existing images, that provide outlets for the publication of new research, and that waive fees for the publication of images in scholarly journals and book encourage the production of new knowledge and the circulation of ideas.
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