The University of Pennsylvania Libraries have announced the release of OPenn: Primary Digital Resources Available to Everyone, a site dedicated to making high quality digitized cultural heritage material freely available: “OPenn is a major step in the Libraries’ strategic initiative to embrace open data, with all images and metadata on this site available as free cultural works to be freely studied, applied, copied, or modified by anyone, for any purpose.”
High resolution images, descriptions, and technical metadata for the materials in OPenn are available under Creative Commons licenses. Users are encouraged to download and work with the data “in whatever way they desire and without requiring them to ask for permission.”
The collection launches with a full complement of titles from the Penn Libraries’ Schoenberg Collection, which contains manuscripts dating from “the dawn of writing through the 19th century,” with “a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” Additional collections will be available soon, including historic diaries from Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) member institutions.
The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies (SIMS) has provided examples of ways the datasets can be adapted and reused:
SIMS’ very own Dot Porter has already used the dataset to create e-books from the images and metadata on OPenn. You can download the e-books in the free and open epub format at Penn Libraries’ Scholarly Commons. She has also used the Internet Archive BookReader, an open source online page-turning book reader, to generate online versions of each manuscript. An example using LJS 225, Litterarum simulationis liber, can be seen at http://dorpdev.library.upenn.edu/BookReaders/ljs225/#page/4/mode/2up. You can search and browse manuscripts in OPenn (along with digitized manuscripts from The Digital Walters) here: http://viewshare.org/views/leoba/openn-and-digital-walters/. These formats serve as excellent tools for raising awareness of manuscript culture and for showcasing manuscripts’ unique graphics and aesthetic appeal.