How Much Description Does a Manuscript Need?

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William R. Veder, Slavisch Seminarium, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Postbus 19188, 1000 GD Amsterdam (Holland)

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Marti poses the question in his title regarding the amount of description desirable for a manuscript. He compares manuscript descriptions to conventional bibliography, concluding that descriptions are problematic as they are neither "'user-oriented' nor computerised" (Polata 17-18: 76), and offers a solution in "the concept of 'structured expandable manuscript description on two levels' (SEM). The ultimate goal of SEM is to have a complete description of all mss., a description covering all aspects with equal thoroughness. The minimal requirement for the implementation of SEM is a description of the inventory type. The features of SEM allow the description to grow, to be updated and corrected, and they enable the users to retrieve only the information that is of interest to them. Furthermore SEM invites and sometimes depends upon the collaboration of scholars in order to achieve the ultimate goal. SEM implies that the description be stored in a database and that it preferably be accessible through information networks." Polata 17-18: 78.


This paper was presented at the "International Data Bases for Medieval Manuscript Studies" conference at Katholieke Universiteit, Nijmegen, September 1987.
Roland Marti, Universität Bamberg


Computer encoding of manuscript descriptions, Cataloging manuscripts, Manuscript Description


Polata Knigopisnaia: an Information Bulletin Devoted to the Study of Early Slavic Books, Texts and Literatures, v17-18 (December 1987), 73-84