Mmmonk stands for Medieval Monastic Manuscripts – Open – Network – Knowledge. It is a collaborative project between Bruges Public Library, Ghent University Library, Major Seminary Ten Duinen in Bruges and Ghent Diocese. The project is funded by the Flemish Government (Department Culture, Youth and Media).
- Provide digital acces to the circa 820 extant medieval manuscripts of the abbeys of Ten Duinen, Ter Doest, Saint Peter's and Saint Bavo's
- Gather and present the images and metadata of the manuscripts in a sustainable and open way using International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF)
- Provide rich educational content
- Stimulate research on the monastic manuscripts
- Contribute to the development and implementation of IIIF for complex book materials
- Create and apply a IIIF traject for the digital images of the monastic manuscripts
- Build a knowledge platform around the monastic manuscript with flexibel, sustainable, digital building blocks
- Build a IIIF partner network in Flanders and promote the ideals and opportunities of IIIF to the sector and potential users
In the Building Blocks work package, we ensured that the images and metadata of approximately 600 Mmmonk manuscripts at the four core partners are available in IIIF. To this end, we undertook the following actions:
- full inventory of the physical condition of approximately 700 manuscripts from Ten Duinen and Ter Doest in Bruges Public Library and Grootseminarie Ten Duinen in preparation for digitization
- digitization of circa 500 manuscripts from Ten Duinen and Ter Doest in Bruges Public Library and Grootseminarie Ten Duinen
- scholarly description of 106 manuscripts from Grootseminarie Ten Duinen
- enrichment of metadata with linked open identifiers (VIAF, wikidata)
- ingest of images and metadata on IIIF servers
Presentation layer and virtual reconstruction
On the basis of preparatory research, including a user survey of potential IIIF users, four construction sites were defined: searchability of IIIF manifests, demo presentation of IIIF annotations, further development of a IIIF tool for guided viewings, building awareness around reuse of IIIF images. The starting point for the four sites was always to improve the user experience, a perspective that needs more attention in IIIF development. In phase 3, these objectives were achieved.
- In collaboration with the company Statik, we created a searchable catalogue with browsable images for the approximately 820 Mmmonk manuscripts. Innovatively, this was done based on aggregation of images and metadata from the IIIF manifests. We created ample educational content about the manuscripts and abbeys (e.g., thematic collections, virtual tours, in-depth texts, videos, learning scenario) to explain the importance of the manuscripts and collections.
- In collaboration with Bauke van der Laan, we developed a demo setup for user-friendly visualization of multiple layers of information in a IIIF environment. The test case was developed on several folios of the Flemish masterpiece Liber Floridus. The documentation is shared via Github.
- In collaboration with the company Exhibit, we developed an improved version of the guided viewing tool so that it can now be used for complex objects (i.e., books) that contain multiple images per object. In addition, we created the ability to integrate YouTube videos. The tool is freely available online for the general public.
- In collaboration with VKC and meemoo, we developed and conducted workshops and tutorials on the reuse of IIIF images. The workshops are also documented on the website.
Communication and community
We organized events around Mmmonk (e.g., the study day on ink corrosion in the Mmmonk manuscripts, and the Mmmonk School). Events are also planned after the completion of phase 3 of the project, such as the celebratory launch of Mmmonk and accompanying art exhibition (1/12/22), the Mmmonk Study Day at the Royal Library of Belgium (17/2/23) and the exhibition of Mmmonk manuscripts on Heritage Weekend (22-23/4/23). We presented the project during lectures at conferences and industry events, such as the Annual IIIF Conference (online), The Art of Reading in the Middle Ages conference (Ljubljana, National Library of Slovenia), Informatie aan Zee (Ostend) and the Linked Open Data conference (Brussels, KBR), and during lectures for various other organizations and colleagues, during guest lectures, and in IIIF workshops.
We created physical eye-catchers leading to the digital project: an information kiosk, a 3D animation, an exhibition with contemporary art, and temporary tattoos.
Timing and funding
- Stage 1: March 2019 – October 2020;
- Stage 2: November 2020 – November 2021;
- Stage 3: November 2021 – November 2022.
- Launch website Mmmonk.be: 1 December 2022
The project was funded by the Flemish Goverment (deparment Culture, Youth and Media) for a total sum of 385.000 euro, divided over three stages.
Partners and contributors
Mmmonk is a collaboration between partners and institutions in Flanders. The four project partners are Bruges Public Library, Ghent University Library, Major Seminar Ten Duinen Bruges and Ghent Diocese. They are supported by a strong network of partners, including special collections libraries, religious institutions, museums, research centres and sectoral network organisations. The project is funded by the Flemish Government.
The following people contributed to Mmmonk at one of the four partner institutions (alphabetical order): Birgit Ampe, Koen Calis, Rosemie Callewaert, Ludo Collin, Rik Declercq, Céline Decottignies, Hendrik Defoort, Katrien Deroo, An Desmedt, Evelien D'Haese, Sarah Eloy, Andy Feys, Nicolas Franck, Stefaan Franco, Evelien Hauwaerts, Emilie Hermans, Serafien Hulpiau, Jaron Jacobus, Heidi Keereman, Valerie Logghe, Dries Moreels, Yasmien Puylaert, Geert Roels, Ludo Vandamme, Dominique Van Eynde, Sofie Vanherpen, July Van Malderen, Hilde Van Parys, Sylvia Van Peteghem, Sarah Vanroye, Jana Vastiau, Sofie Veramme, Katelijne Vercaemer, Robbe Verhelst, Mark Vermeer, Fran Vlaeminck, Marilyne Watteeuw. Our deep gratitude also goes to the many "anonymous" staff members who on a daily basis welcome visitors, organize events, take care of catering, maintain the buildings, keep our websites up and running, manage budgets and agendas and keep our books in splendid condition.
Special thanks to the followings contributors from outside our institutions (alphabetical order): Astrid Beckers, Till-Holger Borchert, Susan Boynton, Lieve Cornil, Pieter Beullens, Godfried Croenen, Els De Paermentier, Bruno De Wever, Evelien de Wilde, Jelena Dobbels, Pascal Ennaert, Doreen Gaublomme, Jeroen Deploige, Albert Derolez, Noël Geirnaert, Hannes Lowagie, Stefan Meysman, Jan Pauwels, Diane Reilly, Lucien Reynhout, Jan Van Acker, Martine Van Asch, Dirk Vanclooster, Kristin Vandamme, Hendrik Vanden Abeele, Lobke Vanden Eynden, Nastasia Vanderperren, Karin Vanderpoorten, Steven Vanderputten, Jacqueline van Leeuwen, Anne van Oosterwijk, Wim Verbaal, Nico, Verplancke, Rony Vissers, Lieve Watteeuw, Hanno Wijsman.
The various Mmmonk results were produced in collaboration with the following experts:
- website Mmmonk.be (including development IIIF catalogue): Statik
- annotation demo on the Liber floridus manuscript: Bauke van der Laan
- extension guided viewing tool Exhibit: Edward Silverton for Mnemoscene
- four videos 'Medieval manuscripts through children's eyes': Klaas De Buysser
- learning scenario: teacher Emma Mortier at kunstacademie Ter Beuken
- Mmmonk School: Webinars on the Medieval Book for Advanced Beginners: Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies
- digitisation medieval manuscripts: iGuana
- 3D animation: Volstok
- motion design social media: Raoul and Me
- exhibition 'Mmmonk Inspires': artists Koen De Cock, Viktor Vandenabeele, Jonas Vanderbeke, Eva Dinneweth, Lore Chielens and Florien Allemeersch
- temporary project website Mmmonk.be: Uruku
- communication strategy, branding, campaign visuals: Cayman
- translations: Irene Schaudies (ACHAA Projects)
The Mmmonk corpus
The Mmmonk corpus consists of the c. 820 surviving medieval manuscripts from the libraries of four important abbeys in medieval Flanders:
- the Cistercian Abbey of Ter Doest in Lissewege (c. 340 extant manuscripts)
- the Cistercian Abbey of Ten Duinen in Koksijde (c. 290)
- the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Bavo in Ghent (c. 110)
- the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Peter in Ghent (c. 80)
The four project partners’ collections hold ca. 690 of these manuscripts. The remainder is kept at 40 institutions in Europe and North-America. To identify these manuscripts we conducted provenance research.
The manuscripts date from the 6th to the 15th century. In addition to religious texts, they contain a wide range of philosophical-theological, legal and medical works, ‘artes’ treatises and humanistic and classical authors.
Saint Bavo’s (founded in 630) and Saint Peter’s (° c. 650-675) were the most powerful abbeys in Flanders for the entirety of the Ancien Régime. Ten Duinen (°1127) was one of the leading Cistercian abbeys in Europe, on equal footing with Clairvaux and Fountains. Its daughter foundation Ter Doest (°1174) also had a far-reaching cultural and religious impact. The important cultural status of these abbeys is reflected in their extensive and diverse libraries, which are central witnesses to the transmission of culture and knowledge in the Western Middle Ages.
Due to its contextual, material and cultural cohesion the Mmmonk corpus is an attractive dataset for research and for further IIIF development.
Searchability of manuscripts on Mmmonk.be
The Mmmonk catalogue was built using IIIF manifests. We take the metadata (descriptions and images) from the manifests that are made available by the various institutions at home and abroad. At some institutions, no IIIF manifests are available (nor are digital images or descriptions). This is beyond the control of Mmmonk. At present, manifests are available for some 700 of the approximately 820 Mmmonk manuscripts. Based on those manifests, we have built our catalogue.
Looking for a manuscript but can’t find it in the catalogue? If so, your manuscript may not yet be IIIF compatible. We collected all the Mmmonk manuscripts in a list. In it you’ll find a list of the IIIF status as well as any links to “classic” catalogue descriptions and digital images. Consult the corpus list to see if your manuscript has a IIIF manifest. It could also be that the manuscript is in the catalogue, but that the institution provided so little metadata (e.g., no author names or titles of works) that your search term is not in the metadata.
We build our catalogue by aggregating data from the manifests as a IIIF experiment. IIIF is primarily used for image sharing, but its metadata sharing capabilities are currently underutilized. However, our user research showed that potential users explicitly state that they want to be able to bring together not only images, but also (good and complete) descriptions in a unified environment. Mmmonk is investigating whether this is possible, and what it would take to achieve it.
Mmmonk aims to explore what the future of IIIF metadata might look like in a test environment, with a nicely defined and coherent dataset. What is needed to achieve a searchable catalogue based on IIIF? And what steps still need to be taken to achieve more uniformity? Is the quality of metadata as we now receive it sufficient? At the Linked Data and International Standards for Cultural Heritage congress at KBR, we presented the preliminary results of our experiment: Connecting Medieval Monastic Manuscripts: metadata aggregation using IIIF manifests (E. Hauwaerts and S. Veramme).