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Reviewed by:
  • e-codices -Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland
  • Pamela E. Pagels
e-codices -Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland[Fribourg, Switzerland] 2005– (Accessed 25 June 2015) [Requires a web browser, and Internet connection. Mobile app requires an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch running iOS 7.0 or later. Pricing: free.]

In January 2005 a pilot project to digitize 130 medieval manuscripts from the Abbey Library of St. Gall in Switzerland began. The program was an initiative of Prof. Dr. Christoph Flüeler at the University of Fribourg with the intent to digitize medieval manuscripts and make them freely available online to scholars and researchers through the Codices electronici Sangalleses(CESG) website (henceforth, “e-codices”). 8Ten years later, with funding from multiple sources and the support of the Rectors Conference of Swiss Universities, the project has become part of a national initiative for widespread digitization. Scholars now have free access to 1,363 fully digitized manuscripts as part of a virtual research library of bound manuscripts dating from the fourth century to early modernity made available by fifty-seven libraries, churches, and private collections in Switzerland and abroad.

The breadth and quality of material digitized and available in e-codices is a rich resource for researchers investigating varied aspects of manuscript studies such as textual transmission and criticism, paleography, liturgy, musical notation, iconography, and source studies. Users can search the virtual library by institution and manuscript shelf number or by person name to find high resolution, digital images of complete manuscripts. Each item in the library includes at least one detailed, scholarly description and accompanying bibliography related to the manuscript object.

For music scholars, the significance of the collections available in e-codices cannot be understated. The manuscripts from the Abbey Library of St. Gallen represent the largest set of digitized volumes—541 to date—and 92 of these feature musical notation. Within the digitized holdings are some of the most important primary source documents for early music notation. Digitized holdings include the Cantatorium of St. Gall 9, the earliest known complete manuscript with neume notation. Also online is Einsiedeln Stiftsbibliothek (Codex 121(1151)), which is the oldest complete extant neumed mass antiphonary and is a primary source for sequences by Notker Balbulus. Early modern additions to the virtual library include the Autographs of Jean Jacques Rousseauproject featuring Rousseau’s first handwritten edition of the Dictionnaire de musique.

The design and functionality of the site by the Swiss-based IT company text & bytes GmbH is impressive. The company specializes in the digital humanities and in custom built web applications. 10In December 2014, e-codices Web Application 2.0 was made public, giving users a new search function, an improved viewer with seamless zoom, a user friendly metadata display, and improved PDF, print, and downloading functionality. The new application incorporates [End Page 594]international standards for interoperability and adheres to the Text Encoding Initiative standards (specifically, TEI-P5) for electronic manuscript descriptions. In all, the v2.0 upgrade reflects the commitment of e-codices to meet the most current needs of digital scholarship and accessibility to resources.


The home page of the site features a colorful banner cycling through manuscript images. More than a slideshow of beautiful illuminations, the twenty-one slides are linked pages for each of the e-codices sub-projects providing collection overviews and project information.

Below the banner, the page frame is separated into two columns. One column is a list of manuscript collections for the entire site. On the right, the smaller column contains news updates as manuscripts recently added, a quarterly newsletter, and press coverage for the site.

Above the banner is a navigation ribbon with options for the user that remain visible on all pages of the site. Users are given a choice of language for the interface—German, English French, and Italian. Other navigation choices include a Person Index, Browse & Search, Annotations, and a search bar that allows the user free text entry for searching manuscript metadata. There also is an About page with extensive information about the site. Included is project history, metadata guidelines, names of project scholars and board members, info...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 594-596
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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