Digitizing BnF manuscripts

As part of the TST project, a considerable portion of the Tamil manuscripts of the BnF will be digitized thanks to the funding of the ANR.

Link on Bam to digital images of the manuscript BnF INDIEN 1 on Gallica — https://archivesetmanuscrits.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cc112191c

The BnF has a very liberal and laudable policy about the digitization of its manuscripts. For a single manuscript, whether of 50 or 500 folios, it costs 90 € (+ taxes) to obtain a colour PDF, while the images are also made available on Gallica, with zooming facilities, etc.

Besides the TST orders of digital images, the BnF will also contribute the digitization of its Tamil manuscripts in the framework of its annual digitization programme.

Links to the digital images of manuscripts are found in the individual descriptions of the manuscripts on Bam (BnF archives et manuscrits). High resolution images can also be retrieved.1

The digitization of a manuscript is a long process.

It starts with the assessment of the state of preservation of the manuscript. In case a manuscript is found too fragile or brittle, its digitization is postponed, with the hope that the manuscript could be first restored … which, unfortunately, has a very high cost and … is thus generally not possible to be implemented quickly.

If the manuscript is in a state of preservation that permits its digitization without damage, the next step is to examine the manuscript and, when appropriate, put the folios in the right order of succession after examining the original foliation and content of the manuscript. Then a continuous library foliation is added, in pencil, in the top right margin, which will serve as reference. Many times, indeed, the original foliation is defective or missing. It also happens that folios are missing in the bundle, that is the preserved manuscript is unfortunately incomplete.

Charles Li (CEIAS) and Jérôme Petit (BnF) adding library foliation to a manuscript to be digitised in the framework of TST

The manuscript is then put in the hands of professional photographers, who produce, under optimal light conditions, high quality colour images enabling a close and accurate reading.

  1. See http://api.bnf.fr/api-iiif-de-recuperation-des-images-de-gallica []

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