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Manuscripts for Medieval Studies: Virtual Trinity Library project supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York

The Library is delighted to announce the start of the Manuscripts for Medieval Studies project. The project will seek to research, catalogue, conserve, digitise and share 16 medieval manuscripts of international research significance.

The project is part of the newly launched Virtual Trinity Library Programme. Its outputs will be presented in the Library’s Digital Collections platform, allowing us to share our collections with communities around the world, to catalyse research and educational dissemination on a global scale, whilst ensuring the preservation of our collections for generations to come.

This project concentrates on manuscripts used for teaching on the Trinity MPhil in Medieval Studies course. The selection demonstrates the breadth and variety of the Library’s collections of source material for the study of the art, history, culture, language and literature of the medieval period, and the history of the book in particular. Two of the Library’s most significant and highly decorated manuscripts, the Winchcombe Psalter (TCD MS 53, 12th century) and the Life of St. Alban by Matthew Paris (TCD MS 177, 13th century) will be photographed in their entirety in colour for the first time. Other works that will feature on the project include surviving manuscripts of St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury and Salisbury Cathedral, medieval music from Britain and Ireland, and a rare 15th-century life of St Thomas Becket.

The project will also directly contribute to teaching and research within Trinity College Dublin, foster collaborations with other research institutes, and will open up engagement with the manuscripts to a global audience at the click of a button.

The project has been made possible due to funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Library is delighted to welcome an exceptional project implementation team:

Archivist/Project Manager, Dr Alison Ray previously worked as Assistant Archivist at Canterbury Cathedral (2018-21) and as Digitisation and Web Curatorial Officer for The Polonsky Foundation England and France Project, 700-1200 at the British Library (2016-18). She holds a PhD in Medieval History from University College London, and is currently Honorary Researcher at the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, University of Kent.

Senior Digital Photographer, Caroline Harding previously worked in a similar role in the Chester Beatty Library Dublin. She holds a BSc in Scientific Photography (RMIT University) and has worked as a Digital Photographer within Museum Victoria in Australia and Scientific Photographer for the Ministry for Primary Industries in New Zealand as well as a Medical Photographer within the health industry in Melbourne Australia.

Conservator, Laura O Farrell is a TCD graduate and also a graduate of West Dean College Conservation of Book and Library Materials programme. She has previously worked at the National Archives UK and has considerable experience as a conservator on digitisation projects.

The team is supported by a Steering Group made up of Estelle Gittins (Manuscripts & Archives), Susie Bioletti (Head of Conservation and Preservation), Jenny Doyle (Programme Manager for the Virtual Trinity Library), Laura Shanahan (Head of Research Collections) and Arlene Healy (Head of Systems and Services). They will liaise closely with Dr Mark Faulkner the course director of the MPhil in Medieval Studies.

This project was personally supported by Dr Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, who died on 15 April 2021. One of his last public speaking engagements was to launch the Virtual Trinity Library with an entertaining and inspirational ‘in conversation’ event with the Librarian, Helen Shenton on 1 March 2021. This project will stand as a memorial to his deep belief in the transformative power of libraries as a ‘vital necessity for the soul, mind and future dreams of a nation’.

Estelle Gittins

Virtual Trinity Library is a digitisation initiative of the Library of Trinity College Dublin’s most valued collections. It will conserve, catalogue, curate, digitise and research these unique collections of national importance, making them accessible to a global audience, from schoolchildren to scholars.

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