2017-01-30

Catching the Changes

Under the smooth shiny hood of the Vatican Library's digital manuscripts portal, which currently has 10,420 items online to read, it's now possible for the scholar to distinguish two categories of URLs to share with friends. The first comprises links to full-color scans of manuscripts like the 94 items below, the latest digitization release, on January 26, 2017.
  1. Borg.arm.61
  2. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXIX.fasc.159
  3. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXIX.fasc.160
  4. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXIX.fasc.161
  5. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXIX.fasc.162
  6. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXIX.fasc.163
  7. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXIX.fasc.165
  8. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXIX.fasc.166
  9. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXIX.fasc.167
  10. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXIX.fasc.168
  11. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.130
  12. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.131
  13. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.132
  14. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.133
  15. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.134
  16. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.135
  17. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.136
  18. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.137
  19. Pal.lat.81
  20. Pal.lat.87
  21. Pal.lat.92
  22. Pal.lat.96
  23. Pal.lat.99
  24. Pal.lat.129
  25. Pal.lat.132
  26. Pal.lat.133
  27. Pal.lat.134
  28. Pal.lat.136
  29. Pal.lat.137
  30. Pal.lat.138
  31. Pal.lat.139
  32. Pal.lat.141
  33. Pal.lat.144
  34. Pal.lat.146
  35. Pal.lat.147
  36. Pal.lat.151
  37. Pal.lat.152
  38. Pal.lat.155
  39. Pal.lat.156
  40. Pal.lat.157
  41. Pal.lat.158
  42. Pal.lat.161
  43. Pal.lat.163
  44. Pal.lat.164
  45. Pal.lat.166
  46. Pal.lat.168
  47. Pal.lat.237
  48. Pal.lat.240
  49. Pal.lat.244
  50. Pal.lat.247
  51. Pal.lat.248
  52. Pal.lat.250
  53. Pal.lat.252
  54. Pal.lat.254
  55. Pal.lat.256
  56. Pal.lat.257
  57. Pal.lat.260
  58. Pal.lat.267
  59. Pal.lat.268
  60. Pal.lat.269
  61. Pal.lat.271
  62. Pal.lat.275
  63. Pal.lat.279
  64. Pal.lat.280
  65. Pal.lat.384
  66. Pal.lat.385
  67. Pal.lat.389
  68. Pal.lat.391
  69. Pal.lat.392
  70. Pal.lat.393
  71. Pal.lat.394
  72. Pal.lat.525.pt.1
  73. Pal.lat.525.pt.2
  74. Pal.lat.599
  75. Pal.lat.1004
  76. Pal.lat.1005
  77. Reg.lat.1105, Tractatus de Medicina. Written in ordinary 12th-century minuscule. Folios 68-76 are palimpsest; the lower script (part of a 10th-century missal) is Beneventan, according to Lowe.
  78. Urb.lat.1454
  79. Urb.lat.1469
  80. Urb.lat.1490
  81. Urb.lat.1604
  82. Urb.lat.1606
  83. Urb.lat.1691
  84. Urb.lat.1716
  85. Urb.lat.1718
  86. Urb.lat.1722
  87. Urb.lat.1724
  88. Urb.lat.1725
  89. Urb.lat.1726
  90. Urb.lat.1727
  91. Urb.lat.1729
  92. Vat.lat.999
  93. Vat.lat.1106
  94. Vat.lat.1221
The second category, very likely kept on a different server, comprises digital versions of old microfilms, mostly black and white but a few in color, which are essentially the same as those made available in recent years on CD-ROM by the Vatican photographic workshop at 50 euros and upwards apiece. The URLS, marked "low quality", are permanent links, which I am guessing will remain valid when these films are ultimately replaced by proper scans.

Keeping track of all this cannot be done without help from software. I use an extension, Distill, available for the Chrome and Firefox browsers.

One of its benefits is that it can be programmed to only monitor the parts of the index pages that matter. For each collection, I create a monitor that ignores the page decoration and thumbnail images and only extracts the the plain shelfmarks from the page as served:
//body[@class='script-active']/div[@class='main']/div[contains(@class,'fluid')]/div[@class='shadow-content']//div//ul[@class='loaded']/li//p

I am experimenting with a second monitor that drills down through the DOM tree to the words "low quality" to detect when that flag disappears (after a high-quality scan replaces a microfilm):
"//body[@class='script-active']/div[@class='main']/div[contains(@class,'fluid')]/div[@class='shadow-content']//div//ul[@class='loaded']/li//figure/div/span"

This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 96. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.

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