IntroductionAbout HUMI


he HUMI (HUmanities Media Interface) Project is an inter-faculty initiative launched at Keio University in 1996 in order to pursue research in the field of digital bibliography and to construct a research environment for that purpose. HUMI - read as "fumi" (letters), a Japanese word that can mean documents, literature, and history - is conducting wide-ranging research into the non-destructive analysis of rare books, the creation of image databases and a library management system, and issues relating to intellectual property rights. Given especial priority so far has been the digitization of major rare books and manuscripts, Western and Oriental (CJK), in the Keio collection, including the Keio Gutenberg Bible (olim Dyson Perrins; Estelle Doheny) acquired in 1996.

Soon after the acquisition of the Gutenberg Bible, we produced a complete digital version using a 3-CCD digital camera developed by NTT Inc. and Olympus Optical Co. of Japan. This SHD camera is of a single-shot (non-scanning) design and its 2048 x 2048 images take only a few seconds to take and view. Such speed allows the photographic team to check each shot on the monitor almost immediately, and while the data is being stored, the next shot is being set up. This rapid pace allowed us to digitize the single (first) volume of Keio's Gutenberg Bible in just two days. Images were then made available on the HUMI website.

n November 1998, we took the SHD camera and a custom-made cradle for photographing rare books to the UK to produce a digital facsimile of the complete 2-volume Gutenberg Bible at Cambridge University Library: 1,300 pages were digitized in four days.

This programme of Gutenberg Bible digitization continues: in November 1999, 3 volumes (1.5 sets) at the Gutenberg Museum at Mainz, and in March 2000 another 4 volumes (2 sets, one paper and the other vellum) at the British Library in London.

2000 was celebrated as the 600th anniversary of Gutenberg's birth, and the British Library made the digital images produced by HUMI available on their website. Additionally, we supplied a digital programme based on the Keio and BL copies, and this was put on display in the exhibition facilities of the BL. In November 2000, an agreement was signed between Keio University and the British Library for further collaborative digitization.

he HUMI Project is thus contributing to the accumulation of digital information on extant copies of the 42-line Gutenberg Bible (B42). This enables us to produce a digital collation of every page, something that has never before been attempted. It is hoped to add data from other B42 copies in future, but already our studies have revealed fascinating evidence of stop-press corrections and other accidentals that throw new light on the printing process at Gutenberg's workshop. Interim results of this research have been presented at international conferences such as those of the Early Book Society held at Lampeter (July 1997), Glasgow (July 1999) and Cork (July 2001); the Society for Historical Authorship, Reading and Publishing held at Mainz (July 2000); and a British Library symposium on Incunabula and their Readers (December 2000).

The SHD camera represents only one of many possible methods of digitizing materials. In our experience, it is most appropriate for producing a good-quality working facsimile at high speed. While minimizing the stress to rare books, this approach does produce high-quality close-ups suitable for bibliographical scrutiny. Consequently, it is also being used for the digitization of the massive incunabula edition of Vincent de Beauvais's Speculum maius (Strasbourg, 1477-78), and the hand-coloured German edition of Conrad Gesner's Historia animalium (Heidelberg, 1598-1606).

here research requires even greater resolution, we have used scanning digital cameras such as the Dicomed, or employed a hybrid approach in which positive colour transparencies (5x4 inch or 6x7cm) is digitized using either the Kodak Professional Photo CD system or, more recently, the Imacon Flextight Progression scanner. Whatever the method, however, we can obtain high-quality images that can be processed digitally to suit various objectives. Using the hybrid method, we have digitized the 'Hopton Hall MS', a fifteenth-century miscellany of didactic and devotional texts in Middle English, a 15th-century manuscript Book of Hours (Rouen, c.1450), miscellaneous MS and early printed leaves in Keio's library, and complete illustrations from the 5-volume edition of Cesare Ripa's Iconologia (Perugia, 1764-67). Some of these images can be seen on the HUMI website.

Since the inception of the HUMI Project, digital photography and related imaging technologies have developed rapidly. The 2048 x 2048 images produced by the SHD camera are no longer considered sufficiently large for many research purposes. In May 2001, therefore, it was the hybrid approach that we employed when we went to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, to capture the Bury Bible. One of the most sumptuously illuminated Romanesque manuscripts still in existence, it was produced in about 1136 at the monastery of Bury St Edmunds.

For the Bury Bible, we took conventional 4x5 colour transparencies. Several of these are being used for a partial facsimile to be published in 2001 by Boydell and Brewer Ltd. Simultaneously, we are scanning the entire set of transparencies to produce a digital facsimile that will be presented to both Corpus Christi College and the City of Bury in November 2001.

he aim of the HUMI Project, envisaged as a prototype of a digital research library, is not simply to accumulate digital facsimiles. Rather, we compile image, text and other information into databases that are made accessible to researchers over an intranet or the Internet. In other words, the digital research library we foresee is not so much a digital archive as a virtual research environment.

In addition to the HUMI website, we publicize our activities at conferences, seminars and other academic gatherings. For example, in September 1999 we hosted the Japan Congress of the Association Internationale de Bibliophilie at Keio University, putting on an exhibition of rare books, a symposium, and digital demonstrations. We also visit libraries that possess copies of the Gutenberg Bible and make digital presentations based on our B42 data, demonstrating the results of both on-site and virtual collation methods. Our work, which has been internationally acclaimed, has been reported in newspapers and such publications as The Book Collector, (vol.48, no.2, p.264).

Naturally, international collaboration is an essential part of the HUMI Project, and this is not limited to exchanges of data. For example, a German student from the Johann Gutenberg University at Mainz came to Japan as a research intern for four months in the summer of 2001. Also, currently being planned is a programme for the exchange of junior members between HUMI and the Canterbury Tales on CD-ROM Project at De Montfort University, Leicester.

In these and other ways, the HUMI Project continues to build and strengthen its ties with libraries and other institutions around the world. Discussions are under way with the British Library, the University of Glasgow, and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, regarding the digitization of other rare books and manuscripts. Meanwhile we welcome opportunities to digitize further copies of the Gutenberg Bible, such as that in the Diocesan Library in Pelplin, Poland.

Toshiyuki Takamiya
Director, The HUMI Project
Keio University