About the Project | Specialist's Information
Creating the Reichenau-St. Gall virtual library
The original goal of this project was to provide a means for exploring the intellectual context for the creation and use of the Plan of St. Gall by digitally reconstructing the ninth-century library holdings of Reichenau and St. Gall. The value in this project lies not only in digitizing manuscripts not yet available online, but also in bringing together manuscripts that are geographically scattered and enabling them to be conveniently studied. The following narrative outlines the rationales and priorities that shaped the selection of both the manuscripts included in the project and the metadata to accompany them.
Ninth-century library catalogs from both Reichenau and St. Gall are extant; in the case of St. Gall, the originals survive. The catalogs of both monasteries are edited in Paul Lehmann's Mittelalterliche Bibliothekskataloge Deutschlands und der Schweiz, which served as the starting point for identifying the contents of the libraries. In some instances, the catalog's description of a manuscript is sufficiently distinctive and detailed that specific manuscripts can be identified (most famously, Csg 914, but see also Vienna, Lat. 397). Most of the time, however, the catalog entry is too generic to support linking it with a specific extant manuscript. As a result, the selection of manuscripts for inclusion in the digital library sought to achieve a representative range of material rather than the specific manuscripts to which the catalog had referred. In addition to this goal, secondary factors shaping the selection of material included the availability of the manuscript online and the interest level of the current owners of a manuscript in participating in the project. The digital library was shaped by the following selection principles:
The primary goal of the metadata was to provide scholars with a basic summary of information about a manuscript. For each manuscript, we provide a list of contents and a codicological description. Where available, the most recent edition and/or translation of a text has been identified; further bibliography on the manuscripts and their contents can be pursued via links to the IMB and the Lexikon des Mittelalters (n.b.: these are external sites with subscription requirements). During the feasibility study, we experimented with providing transcriptions of the texts. As a result, for some manuscripts, a standard edition text for a work within the codex has been provided, and for a very small portion, there are also English translations. Please note that in most instances these are not transcriptions of the manuscript. This element of the project was determined to be a low priority and was not pursued during Phase 2 of the project.
For the contents of each manuscript, published descriptions were checked against the manuscript images. Published descriptions were also the basis for creating the codicological descriptions; since we were unable to check much of this information against the manuscripts themselves, the source of disputable or disputed information has been indicated in parentheses. Every effort has been made to present scholarly concensus as it stands rather than introduce new interpretations, but as every manuscript scholar has learned, establishing the relationship among texts in some manuscripts can require critical judgements. We have endevoured to make them as modest as possible.