MMMONK Medieval Monastic Manuscripts – Open – Network – Knowledge. Crossing institutional boundaries with IIIF

Evelien Hauwaerts - Public Library Bruges (België), Katrien Deroo - Public Library Bruges (Belgium)

Presentation type: Lightning talk


MMMONK. Medieval Monastic Manuscripts – Open – Network – Knowledge. Crossing institutional boundaries with IIIF.

The Public Library of Bruges, Ghent University Library, Grand Seminar Bruges, and Diocese of Ghent are collaborating on Mmmonk. The aim of this IIIF project is to digitally reunite the 734 medieval manuscripts of the abolished Cistercian abbeys of Ten Duinen and Ter Doest and the Benedictine abbeys of Saint Bavo and Saint Peter in Flanders.

For Mmmonk, the PL Bruges and UL Ghent, two active special collections libraries in Flanders, join forces with the Grand Seminar Bruges and the Diocese of Ghent. These two religious institutions hold extremely valuable manuscripts but lack the expertise and resources to disclose them according to international standards.

In the first phase of the project (March 2019 – September 2020), recently awarded with a grant by the Flemish Government, all of the manuscripts kept in Ghent and Bruges will be digitised and made available online using IIIF. These building blocks will allow us to develop research and annotation options enabled by IIIF and computer vision, tailored to our unique corpus of coherent medieval monastic libraries. An example includes the use of multi-lingual ontologies to enrich the metadata provided in the IIIF manifest. All manuscripts will be gathered in a virtual library on an online platform, which will also provide context about the collections.

Although the majority of these manuscripts are now kept at the libraries of the four main partners, some 60 manuscripts from these abbeys have been identified in about 40 institutions in Belgium and abroad. In the following phase of the project, we wish to add these manuscripts to the virtual library as well. Where there are no IIIF compliant images available yet, we hope our project will stimulate and, if possible, support their creation.

Outreach and education are important aspects of the project. We aim to develop a IIIF manual for special collections libraries that wish to implement this digital innovation. In doing so, we hope to contribute to the development of a general open data culture hub in Flanders, but also to take up an exemplary role in stimulating collaboration between smaller and larger institutions in order to facilitate digital innovation. Last but not least, we will combine our academic, public and religious networks to advocate for the use of IIIF in research, education and public outreach (e.g. by crowdsourcing and teaching initiatives).

A supportive network of ten partners will provide additional expertise in terms of digital innovation, education, research and outreach, and will ensure a wide reach for our message and results.

During a lightning talk, we wish to present our goals and methodology in order to stimulate feedback from other participants.


  • Annotation, including full-text or academic use cases,
  • Discovering IIIF resources,
  • IIIF communities (3D, archives, museums, manuscripts, newspapers, etc.)